The UK’s leading supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s is set to become the first UK supermarket to get rid of plastic for loose fruit and vegetables and bakery items.
The supermarket will begin phasing out plastics by September when paper bags will be available for bakery items and reusable bags will be available to purchase for produce items.
Sainsbury has taken extreme steps to limit or eliminate plastic from its stores, something that many U.S. grocery store chains have been forced into doing with plastic bag laws.
The supermarket is also removing all non-recyclable plastics, including plastic trays, such as ones produce like asparagus are sold with, plastic film on fruit and vegetables, PVC and polystyrene trays, plastic trays for eggs, and plastic cutlery.
Sainsbury has also pledged to end the use of dark colored plastics, which can be difficult to recycle, for all fresh foods by March 2020.
The company estimates that this new step in reducing plastic in their stores will save a total output of plastic of approximately 489 tonnes.
“We are absolutely committed to reducing unnecessary plastic packaging in Sainsbury’s stores,” says Sainsbury’s CEO, Mike Coupe. “Our customers expect us to be leading the way on major issues like this, so I am determined to remove and replace plastic packaging where we can and offer alternatives to plastic where packaging is still required to protect a product.”
“We’ve been urging Sainsbury’s to take action on plastics after it came bottom of our supermarket plastics league table last year,” said Ariana Densham, ocean plastics campaigner for Greenpeace UK. “Sainsbury’s has an annual plastic footprint of nearly 120,000 tonnes, so this pledge to reduce plastics by one per cent is a very small step in the right direction, but nowhere near enough.”
Previously Sainsbury’s has already removed from its stores plastic sleeves from greeting cards, plastic stems from cotton buds, plastic straws, plastic cups and cutlery from all store offices and head office, and plastic packaging from cauliflowers, organic bananas, easy peeler citrus fruit, brassicas and tomatoes.
The company also strives to reduce its plastic in many areas, such as the amount of plastic used in olive oil bottles and poultry packaging. They have replaced carrier bags with 100% recycled bags, plastic triggers on spray cleaners with recyclable triggers, and plastic packaging on organic avocados with a recyclable alternative.