A bold CSR initiative makes a supermarket brand an industry leader -Iceland #TooCoolforPlastic campaign

A bold CSR initiative makes a supermarket brand an industry leader -Iceland #TooCoolforPlastic campaign

Supermarket chains in Hong Kong are widely criticized for their wasteful use of plastic packaging (Ting, 2019). Some may argue that stripping off plastic wrapping will cause food hygiene concerns, especially when we are under a pandemic. What about replacing the plastic wrapping with some environmental-friendly materials so those food are preserved in good condition while the extra packaging bring no harm to the environment? Iceland Foods Supermarket’s #TooCoolforPlastic campaign provides us the perfect solution for that.

Iceland Food is one of the leading British chained supermarkets, and it specializes in selling frozen food and its own-labeled packaged food. In 2018, Iceland announced the #TooCoolforPlastic campaign to the public. It was the first supermarket in the world committed to eliminating plastic packaging from all of its own-labeled products by 2023.

Besides the right partnership with its own-labeled suppliers and  Greenpeace, the strong rationale and strategies behind the #TooCoolforPlastic campaign are another winning keys. Before taking the bold move, Iceland has got 81% of support in a survey of 5,000 consumers and received positive feedback from its independent advisor, Greenpeace (CIPR Awards, 2018). The solid rationale provided a strong basis for anti-plastic advocacy. The campaign implemented a comprehensive media relations plan and maximized social media channels, including influencer engagement and hashtag strategy on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. The campaign idea won countless shares from consumers, high-profile celebrities, individual board members, media, and 524 counts of global media coverage (Dunne, 2018). The media leveraged other media in a snowball effect of favorable coverages and urged the suppliers, business rivals, and other stakeholders to follow Iceland’s lead. The campaign was called “a PR masterstroke” by the editor of The Grocer (CIPR Awards, 2018) and successfully brought impact to the consumers, competitors, and policymakers.

A bold CSR initiative makes a supermarket brand an industry leader -Iceland #TooCoolforPlastic campaign

A bold CSR initiative makes a supermarket brand an industry leader -Iceland #TooCoolforPlastic campaign

The most determining element for making the campaign successful is Iceland’s fearlessness in making the enormous social change by reforming its business operation. Iceland launched the campaign a week after the government announced an environmental strategy, which suggested plastic-free aisles in supermarkets. Iceland definitely took the call seriously and even made a more significant move in a short time. To eliminate plastic packaging in all of the own labeled products, Iceland needs to adjust more than 1,400 product lines (Dunne, 2018). But all the hard work has paid off—the campaign brought on a change in customer perception. The customers who perceived Iceland as the most environmentally friendly supermarket has increased from 3% to 25% after the campaign has launched for a month. This campaign demonstrated the real way to do a responsible business and gain trust from the consumer.

Back to the Hong Kong situation, Greenpeace claimed that no supermarket in Hong Kong is setting a goal to eliminate the plastic packeting completely (HK01, 2020). Also, their existing measures are failed to touch the core of the problem. In Hong Kong, the supermarket chains should take the #tooCoolforPlastic campaign as the guide and try to prioritize social impact over business convenience.



CIPR Awards. (2018, June 06). Corporate social responsibility campaign. Retrieved March 01, 2021, from https://ciprawards.co.uk/excellence/hall-of-fame/results-2018/corporate-social-responsibility-campaign/

Dunne, H. (2018, December 3). BEST CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY INITIATIVE 2018. Retrieved March 01, 2021, from https://www.corpcommsmagazine.co.uk/features-and-analysis/view/best-corporate-responsibility-initiative-2018

HK01. (2020, May 19). 超市走塑成績表全不合格 「包膠」嚴重 卸責「香港人未READY」. Retrieved March 01, 2021, from https://www.hk01.com/%E7%A4%BE%E6%9C%83%E6%96%B0%E8%81%9E/473730/%E8%B6%85%E5%B8%82%E8%B5%B0%E5%A1%91%E6%88%90%E7%B8%BE%E8%A1%A8%E5%85%A8%E4%B8%8D%E5%90%88%E6%A0%BC-%E5%8C%85%E8%86%A0-%E5%9A%B4%E9%87%8D-%E5%8D%B8%E8%B2%AC-%E9%A6%99%E6%B8%AF%E4%BA%BA%E6%9C%AAready

Ting, V. (2019, May 17). Why are Hong KONG supermarkets WRAPPING pineapples in plastic? Retrieved March 01, 2021, from https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/3010607/are-hong-kong-supermarkets-using-too-much-plastic