British supermarket chain Waitrose & Partners has launched what it claims is the world’s first home-compostable ready meal packaging.

The new packaging will replace many of Waitrose’s Italian ready meal trays at first; this will save 158 tonnes of black plastic. The retailer plans to move almost nine million products out of black plastic.

The new containers are fibre-based,  have a similar texture to cardboard and are Forest Stewardship Council certified. They also save 50% in CO2 emissions as well as being recyclable.

Working with suppliers Huhtamaki and Saladworks, the retailer used the latest technology to make sure the ready meal trays can be heated in the oven and microwave.

This is the first stage of Waitrose & Partners plans to eliminate all unnecessary plastic from its products. At the start of the year the retailer removed black plastic packaging from its fresh meat, fish, poultry, fruit and vegetables.

Waitrose & Partners wants to make all of its own-brand packaging 100% recyclable, reusable or home compostable by 2023, with 85% of its own-brand packaging already widely recyclable.

The new Italian ready meal packaging will be in Waitrose & Partners shops from May 29 including Chilli Prawn Spaghetti, Broccoli Orechiette and Tomato and Mozzarella Pasta Bake.

Waitrose & Partners packaging and reprographics manager Karen Graley said: “Pioneering the first home compostable ready meal packaging that ensures customers can continue to cook their food quickly, safely and now more sustainably is a major breakthrough in packaging innovation. This step – combined with moving millions of ready meals out of black plastic is a significant milestone in how we package food and eliminate hard to recycle material for good.”