According to M&S packaging technologist Mark Caul the move was aimed at taking an entire, holistic approach. Its about a changing world and essentially about climate change, he said.
On the receiving end of customer complaints on over-packaging, Caul acknowledged the retailer had scope for improvement.
There are examples that you cant argue with it it looks over packaged. But if you look at the weight to product ratio it is a different story, Caul said.
For us plastic food packaging is a tiny percentage of the packaging we use. When it comes to produce we use under 10,000 tonnes. But from the customers perception it is a big part, he added.
In looking for solutions, the retailer said it had to consider materials properties. Ready meal packaging needed to be suitable for oven and microwave use, so biodegradable materials would not work for such products, and clarity was also important as consumers wanted to see their food.
Caul added that more information on the life cycle analysis and carbon footprint of new packaging options was needed. Recycled PET is heavier than PP so you would need to consider weight reduction versus recycling, he said.
He added that the retailer was carrying out an on-going initiative into office recycling, to collect waste generated at lunchtime. Previous in-store collection facilities failed to work as customers took their food, and its packaging, out of the stores.