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Plastic packaging commitment from Sainsbury's

Supermarket group Sainsbury’s has committed to reducing its use of plastic packaging by half, by 2025. The retailer will work with Greenpeace to achieve its goals.

The target will include reductions in plastic use in all branded food packaging, own-brand food packaging, and other packaging across all Sainsbury’s operations. The retailer achieved a 1 per cent reduction in plastic use during 2018, but currently still uses almost 120,000 tonnes of plastic packaging every year.

A number of tactics will be employed to achieve the target. Use of alternative materials will be increased, lighter weight plastics will be used, and wider use of refillable packaging will be rolled out. Key areas of focus will be plastic milk bottles; fruit and vegetable packaging; and water, soft drink, and fruit juice bottles and cartons.

The retailer says that some changes will require customers to modify their behaviour, such as by using refillable containers for milk.

“We have set ourselves a bold ambition because we understand that we urgently need to reduce our impact on the planet and to help drive change across our industry,” says Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe.

“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. We can’t do this on our own and we will be asking our suppliers and our customers to work with us to help us make this important change.”

“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,” adds Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers.

“Last year we ranked UK supermarkets on their plastic policies and Sainsbury’s came last in the league table,” says Greenpeace UK head of ocean plastic campaign Louise Edge.

“This commitment from Sainsbury’s to cut plastic by 50% by 2025 is a victory for the tens of thousands of customers who lobbied them to do better on plastic. We commend Sainsbury’s for listening and recognising that huge plastic reduction and bringing in refillable packaging at scale are vital to tackling the plastic pollution crisis. Sainsbury’s should prioritise these solutions rather than switching to other types of throwaway packaging and we stand ready to help them achieve this ambitious goal.”