Sainsbury’s calls on suppliers to help halve plastic use

Sainsbury’s is open sourcing ideas from manufacturers, suppliers and consumers to meet a target to cut plastic use from the products it sells by 50%. 

The supermarket has launched a section of its website for any interested parties to contribute ideas on how the business can reduce its plastic waste. 

The target includes all branded food packaging as well as Sainsbury’s own-brand packaging across all of its operations.

Plastic milk bottles, fruit and vegetable packaging, fizzy drinks, water and fruit juices have been identified by the supermarket as areas of focus.

Sainsbury’s is looking to switch to alternative materials, use lighter-weight plastics and introduce refillable packaging at scale. 

To tackle the issue of plastic milk bottles, the supermarket said it was exploring a range of options including “refillable bottles, returnable milk bottles or a reusable jug with milk in a lightweight plastic pouch”.

However, Sainsbury’s warned the alternatives would require customers to also change their behaviour. 

The supermarket is collaborating with food manufacturers, suppliers, scientists, other retailers and the waste and recycling industry in order to meet its targets.

It met with branded suppliers, researchers and government stakeholders alongside the Natural Environment Research Council today (Friday 13 September) to identify potential innovation projects.

The supermarket uses almost 120,000 tonnes of plastic packaging per year. Earlier this year, Sainsbury’s announced plastic reduction targets including the removal of plastic cutlery and replacing black plastic trays on fresh foods with recyclable alternatives by the end of 2019. 

Mike Coupe, chief executive of Sainsbury’s, said: “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.

“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.”

Earlier this week, Asda revealed it was trialling a new plant-based coating for fruit and vegetables which could reduce food waste and cut the need for plastic packaging.

Meanwhile, luxury fashion brand Gucci announced its strategy to become carbon neutral by reducing, eliminating and offsetting any “unavoidable emissions”.

Gucci said its supply chain is responsible for the “bulk of these emissions (around 90%) as is generally the case with all luxury fashion companies”. 

As the first priority, Gucci has implemented a series of initiatives around low-impact alternative and sustainable materials, sustainable sourcing, and manufacturing efficiencies to avoid and reduce its impact across the supply chain. 

“These initiatives have already shown promising results by avoiding around 440,125 tonnes of CO2 in 2018, and they will be continuously amplified,” it said. 

Gucci has also partnered with UN project Redd+ to reduce emissions from deforestation and support forest conservation in Peru, Kenya, Indonesia and Cambodia to offset carbon emissions it cannot eliminate.

Marco Bizzarri, president and CEO of Gucci, said: “A new era of corporate accountability is upon us and we need to be diligent in taking all steps to mitigate our impacts, including being transparent and responsible for our GHG emissions across our supply chains.

“Gucci will continue to work in a smart and strategic way to avoid and reduce our impacts, while simultaneously investing in innovation as a driver for sustainability.”

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