Sainsbury’s has committed to slash its plastic packaging by half by 2025, through the introduction of alternative refill options and materials.
A “transformational leap in thinking” required
Sainsbury’s is co-hosting a summit on the 13th of September with the Natural Environment Research council (NERC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), which brings together suppliers, researchers and government stakeholders to identify possible breakthrough innovation projects.
According to Sainsbury’s, a “transformational leap in thinking” is required beyond what’s being done today to tackle plastic packaging, especially given that only 1% of plastic packaging has been reduced last year by the retailer.
A part of its plan is to suggest a ‘revolution’ in consumer buying habits, which will see the retailer introduce re-fill counters and re-usable bags at scale. Essentially, it is reviewing alternative options that include the switch to refillable and reusable bottles, particularly for milk, given that it’s one of the largest sources of plastic packaging.
In addition, it will start switching to alternative materials such as lighter-weight plastics.
Chief Executive Mike Coupe said: “Reducing plastic and packaging is not easy. Packaging plays a vital role in keeping our food safe and fresh and minimising food waste. We must therefore find alternatives to plastic that protect the quality of our food while minimising our impact on the environment.”
Meanwhile, Theresa Villiers, the Environment secretary, said: “I commend the leadership shown by Sainsbury’s and their efforts to introduce new industry-wide standards and reporting, ensuring that our environment is protected for future generations. This is a brilliant example of the integral role business has to play in cutting plastic waste, empowering consumers to make more sustainable choices.”
What are the other retailers doing?
Tesco has recently launched the second phase of its Remove, Reduce, Re-use and Recycle plan. Which sets out four steps that will govern packaging design across all its product categories. It is also due to remove plastic carrier bags from its online grocery business.
Meanwhile, Waitrose has been trialling a refillable zone in its Oxford store in order to reduce its packaging waste, and has also started using recycled trays for its ready meals.
In addition, Morrisons has recently introduced plastic-free fruits and veg areas in 60 of its stores, while Aldi is has expanded a trial that removes plastic from fresh produce and Lidl has rolled out organic bags and resuable net bags for fruits and veg respectively in the Balearic islands and in Denmark.
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