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Sainsbury’s makes commitments to cut plastic packaging- is it enough?

Ending the use of dark coloured plastics across fresh foods by March 2020

Sainsbury’s will end the use of dark coloured plastics (which are difficult to recycle) across fresh foods by the end of 2019 and entirely by March 2020 as well as remove all plastic packaging from Christmas crackers this year.

• Trialling a pre-cycle area for customers to recycle plastic • Removing all plastic packaging from Christmas crackers this year

Sainsbury’s will also introduce a trial scheme for customers to ‘pre-cycle’ by providing an area for customers to remove unwanted primary and secondary packaging in store and leave it for recycling. This means that food remains protected through the supply chain, but offers the customer the option to recycle before they take the item home.

In addition, from today, Sainsbury’s will remove plastic packaging from sweetheart and savoy cabbages, cutting a further 100 tonnes of plastic packaging over the next year, as part of a drive to significantly reduce plastic packaging.

Sainsbury’s has previously implemented measures that are already leading to a reduction of 8,101 tonnes of non-recyclable plastic and use of “virgin plastic” every year. Over the next twelve months, Sainsbury’s will remove a further 1280 tonnes of plastic from products and ensure all plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. 

Sainsbury’s four-point plan for cutting plastic use falls under the four headings of remove, reduce, replace and recycle. 

For the first time Sainsbury’s is setting out in detail where plastic is being completely removed, where plastic is being reduced and where non-recyclable plastic is being replaced with recyclable alternatives.

CEO Mike Coupe said: 

“We are serious about reducing plastic. For many years, Sainsbury’s has prioritised sustainability and sought innovative solutions to reduce plastic packaging and increase recycling. Today’s announcements show what we have already achieved and demonstrate our firm commitments for the future to make significant reductions in plastic use.”

Sainsbury’s has a long and proud track record for sustainability. It was the first retailer to ban microbeads in 2013, water bottles have contained 25% recycled content since 2011 and 68.7% of plastic packaging is widely recyclable with an extra 12.5% recyclable at store with carrier bags.

In an independent survey by Organics Council UK on Supermarket Own Brand Product Packaging Environmental Pollution Survey 2018 Report, Sainsbury’s was recognised as the leading supermarket for providing recycling information on food labels. 

Sainsbury’s has already removed:

plastic sleeves from greeting cards (77 tonnes)plastic stems from cotton buds (50 tonnes)plastic straws (37 tonnes)plastic cups and cutlery from all store offices and head office  (14 tonnes)plastic packaging from cauliflowers, organic bananas, easy peeler citrus fruit, brassicas and tomatoes (131 tonnes)

TOTAL: 309 tonnes

Sainsbury’s has already reduced:

the amount of plastic in core water bottles and lids (175 tonnes)plastic used in olive oil bottles (12 tonnes)plastic from poultry packaging (61 tonnes)

TOTAL: 248 tonnes

Sainsbury’s has already replaced:

plastic trays on selected flower products with wooden trays (5 tonnes)plastic triggers on all spray cleaners with fully recyclable triggers (120 tonnes)carrier bags with bags for life made from 100% recycled content (6611 tonnes)plastic packaging on organic avocados with a fully recyclable alternative (8 tonnes)Tu clothing hangers with 100% recycled materials (800 tonnes)

TOTAL: 7544 tonnes

Sainsbury’s is committed to removing:

dark coloured plastic across fresh foods by the end of 2019 and entirely by March 2020hard to recycle plastics (such as polystyrene and PVC) by the end of 2019 plastic packaging from sweetheart and savoy cabbages (100 tonnes)plastic packaging from Christmas crackers (60 tonnes)plastic shrouds from clothing (1000 tonnes)

TOTAL: 1160 tonnes

 Sainsbury’s is committed to reducing:

the weight of the plastic used in ready meal trays (65 tonnes)the thickness of clothing bags for underwear and shirts, (50 tonnes)removing plastic sleeves from slippers (5 tonnes)

TOTAL: 120 tonnes

Sainsbury’s is committed to replacing:

all fruit and vegetable packaging with recycled alternatives by the end of 2020 all sparkling water bottles from green to clear by the end of 201930% of plastic with recycled content in all plastic packaging where possible by 2022. 

Sainsbury’s is committed to recycling by:

offering customer recycling facilities at further 125 stores (currently 275).accepting carrier bags and all film marked with a recycle logo during an online delivery.developing a strategy to make it convenient for customers to recycle.collaborating with others on research to develop new packaging and recycling technologiespiloting Deposit Return Schemes so customers can return recyclable packaging simply and easilyexpanding the reuse and recycling of hangers from 20% of hangers in the chain to over 50% later this year 


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