Survey laggard Sainsbury’s begins to pick up the pace on plastics with new commitments

Retail giant Sainsbury’s – which ranked last in our 2018 supermarket survey of plastic commitments – has today (6 June) announced plans to double efforts to get rid of plastic.  

The company has committed to remove 1,284 tonnes of plastic over 2019, including by removing all plastic bags currently offered for loose fruit, vegetables and bakery items. By September, customers buying loose fruit and vegetables must bring their own bags or buy a re-usable bag. Paper bags will be available for loose bakery items.

The commitment will also see 9,731 tonnes of non-recyclable plastic replaced with recycle alternatives, with the phase-out of black plastic trays and non-recyclable plastic film on fruit and vegetable ranges. In addition, 379 tonnes of plastic will be substituted with fibre and pulp-based materials for egg boxes and takeaway cutlery.

We encourage Sainsbury’s to consolidate this progress towards eliminating unnecessary and non-recyclable plastic and packaging with year-on-year reduction and refill targets.

“Sainsbury’s announcement is a step in the right direction from the company which scored lowest in the 2018 plastics survey we jointly conducted with Greenpeace,” said Juliet Phillips, Ocean Campaigner. “These actions must form part of a concerted long-term effort if the company is to prove sincere in its commitment to remove unnecessary packaging.”

Sainsbury’s announcement follows news earlier this week from Waitrose of an innovative and comprehensive refillable trial in an Oxford store, offering customers a wide range of items to be purchased in reusable packaging – from frozen goods, rice and grains to wine and beer in refillable bottles.

“Waitrose has raised the bar by demonstrating it is possible for major supermarkets to fundamentally rethink single-use packaging across a wide range of product lines,” added Phillips. “We encourage Sainsbury’s and other retailers to move beyond the low-hanging fruits, taking a systematic approach to transitioning away from single-use plastic across the grocery supply chain.”