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Today, the BBC reported that Marks and Spencer is paring back its fruit and veg labelling to be more environmentally friendly, replacing stickers with laser-markings. From Thursday, M&S will sell avocados bearing what look like pale tattoos, showing a best-before date and origin. Peeling away the traditional labelling will save 10 tonnes of paper and five tonnes of glue a year, says M&S.
More of its fruit and vegetables may be laser-branded in future, the retailer says. "The laser just takes off one layer of skin and instead of inking it or burning it, the skin retracts and leaves a mark," says Charlie Curtis, senior produce agronomist at Marks and Spencer.
"What we're putting onto the fruit is country of origin, best before date and there's a short code so you can put it through quickly at the [checkout] till."
While the printed sticker is an effective way to label most groceries, they are sometimes prone to coming unstuck, particularly when applied to very dry, wrinkly or shiny surfaces. Alongside avocados, sweet potatoes and coconuts are among the more challenging products for the supermarket sticker-gun. It's taken M&S six months to perfect the laser process for avocados, but if the trial rolling out this week goes well they expect laser-labelling to be extended to more products.