The UK’s second-largest supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s, has made a start with their plan to exchange their normal plastic mushroom packaging punnets, for cardboard punnets. This switch to alternative materials will be extremely beneficial to the environment, the consumers and the supermarket.
The switch has already begun and so far, these eco-friendly packages are being put to use within the Sainsbury’s and SO Organic mushroom section. The plan encompasses these packages being distributed to the Taste the Difference line within the near future as well. The plan also spreads to the ideal that all 13 of Sainsbury’s own-brand mushroom varieties will be packaged in the new cardboard punnets by the end of January. The variety of mushrooms includes, whole baby button, closed cup, organic and chestnut mushrooms. This will be an excellent step forwards for the supermarket chain, as it will result in the elimination of more than 775 metric tons of plastic per year. This is equivalent to reducing over 52 million pieces of plastic waste, through simply switching to cardboard punnets.
The cardboard punnets will also involve the use of film; however, Sainsbury’s has also made this packaging design much more environmentally friendly. The film can be recycled through customers giving it to the flexible packaging recycling points, which are now based at all Sainsbury’s supermarkets. This is an excellent design, which substantially benefits the environment, whilst also placing Sainsbury’s in the position of the first UK retailer to implement a widely used action, which focuses on vegetable packaging. It has been stated that this movement is the largest single reduction of plastic usage, within retailer’s history.
Furthermore, this change is not only occurring within the food sector of the supermarket, but last year plastic free packaging also appeared in use for all of Sainsbury’s own-brand toilet paper and kitchen towels. The switch has taken off somewhat rapidly as it is part of the response to the UK government’s Autumn statement, which made some changes around the obligation of plastic packaging tax. However, whilst this switch in packaging design does respond to the government’s announcement, it also highlights just how big Sainsbury’s commitment to becoming environmentally conscious is. The switch follows previous steps the company has made to become more environmentally friendly and reduce the amount of plastic waste, such as in 2019 when they removed plastic trays from their asparagus packaging, or in 2020 when they did the same thing to their tomatoes. Sainsbury’s has also continued the trend of reducing plastic waste through the elimination of single-use plastic lids from dairy products, they have stopped packaging ready meals in black plastic, they no longer provide plastic bags for bakery or produce packing and finally they were also the first UK retailer to stop plastic trays being used for minced beef and have chosen to use vacuum packaging on the meat product instead.
Director of product and innovation at Sainsbury’s, Claire Hughes, commented, “We are delighted to introduce cardboard punnets for our own-brand mushrooms. Making a collective effort with suppliers to increase recycled content and recyclability for all customers has helped achieve our biggest ever plastics removal so far. We are trying to reduce plastic packaging across our own brand ranges. The initiative reflects our commitment toward a healthier and more sustainable future as we continue to look at ways to innovate our packaging and reduce and replace plastic where possible.”