DRONES have taken to the skies above Cheshire to mark Roberts Bakery's switch to new paper packaging.

The Rudheath-based bakery has reduced the plastic in its bread bags by 53 per cent and switching its core ranges to sustainably-sourced paper – the first bakery brand in the UK to do so.

Dubbed the 'Bread Arrows', the drones performed an acrobatic display to mark the new paper bags hitting shelves of 300 Tesco stores across the UK – giving the nation’s bread buyers an environmentally-friendly option.

UK bakeries produce 10,700 tonnes of hard-to-recycle plastic packaging every year, with most going straight to landfill or specialist recycling points.

Roberts is the first bakery brand to come up with a bag that can be put into the paper or mixed recycling bin.

Its white and wholemeal sliced loaves are now packaged in the same paper bag as its Bloomers – taking potential volume to eight million loaves, or 20 per cent of the bakery’s annual production.

Innovation director Alison Ordonez said: “Plastic is an increasingly important topic for us all.

"This latest development represents a big shift in beginning to address the problems it poses in the bread industry.

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"But it’s not an easy task. Delivering fresh bread – of the quality that our consumers love – in a paper bag rather than plastic is more challenging because you need the ‘preserving’ layer of plastic to keep the bread fresh.”

The new bag has 53 per cent less plastic than before and is made from sustainably-sourced paper with a very thin poly prop coating to ensure that the loaves stay fabulously fresh.

Alison said: “Our vision is to become the next generation bakery, and we’ve taken the lead in developing packaging solutions first.

Northwich Guardian:

"It’s part of our ongoing journey to become 100 per cent plastic-free. If we don’t start acting, there won’t be a next generation – we feel really strongly about that.”

The cost of the loaves remains the same.

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Recycling Association CEO Simon Ellin said: “I welcome the progress made by Roberts Bakery towards an eventual single material packaging solution for its bread.

"The team there has engaged with us on its plans to reduce the packaging from a predominantly plastic to paper-based option.

"It’s a great example of how manufacturing companies can work with the recycling supply chain to meet the needs of both."

The Bread Arrow drones moved from display to delivery mode in a series of follow-up bread drops across the north west.