Photo courtesy of Sainsbury's

Sainsbury’s ditches plastic for cardboard punnets on own-brand mushrooms

Produce Business report

The not-so-distant target to reach sustainability goals has pushed retailers to eliminate plastic bags and individual wraps on fruits and vegetables. And think of new ideas.

One of the biggest offenders aside from packaging film – which in some cases helps in terms of food safety and convenience – are punnets.

Easy to store but difficult to recycle, produce department coolers and fresh takeway areas are often stacked with them. But innovative companies, knowing that environmentally friendly is the future, are coming with solutions … and some chains are welcoming them with open arms.

Sainsbury’s is one of them, recently announcing they were switching from plastic to cardboard for their own-brand mushrooms – a stunning development that is certain to draw the attention of shoppers. When is the last time you saw cardboard tins of mushrooms anywhere?

But this sea shift in approach and embrace will see Sainsbury’s sparing more than 775 tonnes of plastic, equal to the weight of 43 of London’s signature double-decker buses. That is hardly insignificant.

“The initiative reflects our commitment towards a healthier and more sustainable future as we continue to look at ways to innovate our packaging and reduce and replace plastic where possible,” says Claire Hughes, Director of Product and Innovation at Sainsbury’s. “As part of our Plan for Better commitments, we are trying to reduce plastic packaging across our own-brand ranges. We are delighted to introduce cardboard punnets for our own-brand mushrooms.”

Hughes adds that Sainsbury’s is working with its suppliers to boost the “recyclability” factor of the products it puts on those shelves for shoppers.

The latest scheme will see some 52 million pieces of plastic removed. All 13 of those own-brand lines – including whole baby button, closed cup, organic and chestnut mushrooms – will get that makeover by the end of the month.

Goodbye plastic, hello cardboard.

Sainsbury’s will be the first retailer in the UK to do this in all of its stores and online. Other notable efforts the chain has made include eliminating plastic trays from tomatoes and asparagus, which has spared a collective 100 million-plus tonnes of plastic each year. Sainsbury’s also offers customers the opportunity to recycle film at its flexible plastics recycling points in store.



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