Sainsbury’s scraps fresh food plastic bags

Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s has stepped up its action on waste by scrapping plastic bags for fresh food purchases.

The supermarket wants to help reduce the amount of plastic being binned and ending up in the oceans. It is no longer providing plastic bags for loose fruit and vegetables.

The supermarket is advising customers to bring their own containers and bags or they can pay 30p for a reusable drawstring carrier bag.

Sainsbury’s has also stopped supplying plastic bags for its bakery items. The changes will apply in all convenience stores and about 500 supermarkets with more to follow.

CO2 footprint

The reason for not providing paper bags with loose fruit and veg is that the supermarket has found that giving out free paper bags for this produce would increase the company’s CO2 footprint greatly.

Rebecca Reilly, Sainsbury’s head of external communications, said the net impact would have been worse for the environment.

“There’s the deforestation link, and they are heavier and bulkier [than plastic]. They take up space in transport, so there are knock-on carbon emissions.”

Sainsbury’s has pledged to reduce 50% of its plastic use by 2025 and has around 600 supermarkets in the UK

The grocer has also stopped the use of plastic bags when delivering groceries to customers’ homes with items being delivered in crates instead, with no change to delivery charges.

Plastic sleeves

The supermarket is also launching a three-month trial to replace plastic sleeves on flowers with recyclable paper in 167 stores. Sainsbury’s says this should remove 10 tonnes of plastic from more than 1 million bouquets.

Mike Coupe, Sainsbury’s chief executive, said:

“Reducing plastic and packaging is not easy. We can’t do this on our own and we will be asking our suppliers and our customers to work with us.”

Sainsbury’s is also encouraging customers to bring their own containers for products from shampoo to raw meat and fish, and will sell more products loose by weight, which Waitrose began trialling earlier this year.

Waitrose plastic move

Waitrose has just promised to remove the plastic wrapping from multi-pack cans of foodstuffs. It will sell tins loose, but will still apply lower multi-buy prices at checkouts, rather than replacing plastic material with a more eco-friendly alternative.

It is trialling the move in 17 stores initially and said that this comes in direct response to consumers increasingly questioning the need for single-use plastic that cannot be recycled.

The supermarket moves come as the Government announces its long-awaited Environment Bill that will also see further action taken on plastic pollution, with charges applied to some single-use items and a new rule requiring packaging producers to pay for the cost of clean-up.

Currently most of the UK’s environmental rules are enforced by Brussels, but the Bill outlines the creation of a new Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) to ensure the UK complies with environmental standards.

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