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Sainsbury's switches from cans to cartons for its Basics tomatoes

Supermarket giant Sainsburys has announced plans to sell its Basics tinned chopped tomatoes in cardboard cartons rather than cans in a move which they believe could reduce packaging by half a million kilos per year.

This latest plan forms part of the supermarkets drive to cut its packaging by a third by 2015.

Basics tinned tomatoes are Sainsburys biggest-selling non-fresh item, meaning that the new cartons, made by SIG Combibloc, will be used at high volumes.

Sainsburys head of packaging, Stuart Lendrum, said: This type of carton is a strong challenger to the traditional tin can in many ways, and may well pose a threat to its dominance over the coming years.

However, the announcement has received criticism from some quarters, with some believing that the move could actually increase the amount of waste going to landfill.

A press statement called The Can Answers Back produced by the Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association (MPMA) said: The MPMA was surprised to see the cartons environmental credential promoted, as technical information to date suggests that the multi-layer material makes it incredibly difficult and expensive to recycle the packaging.

Conversely the metal food can is not only recyclable, but is being recycled in ever growing quantity.

According to the Local Government Association 17 per cent of local authorities do not have the facilities available to recycle the sort of cartons Sainsburys are planning to use whereas more can recycle steel cans.

LGA policy advisor Clive Harris said: We would like Sainsburys to help councils provide a fuller recycling service across the board.

Ideally they should be looking to pay for the disposal of the packaging they produce in areas which cannot recycle it.

As much as we can see the logic behind Sainsburys doing this, anything that disadvantages certain local authorities is a shame and maybe Sainsburys could work with these local authorities to prevent additional material being sent to landfill.

Sainsburys also hopes switching to the cartons will reduce carbon emissions by 156 tonnes per year.

Mr Lendrum said: Packaging basics chopped tomatoes this way will make life easier for customers as they will take up less space in cupboards, while at the same time, the environmental impact of those tomatoes will be a lot lower.

Also, as they can be packed more tightly, more will fit onto a lorry meaning fewer journeys are required to move them around the country.

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