Sainsburys will be the first supermarket to swap its cardboard cereal boxes with recyclable plastic bags in an attempt to reduce packaging waste.
The supermarket plans to sell its own-brand cereal in the plastic bags but the switch has been met with a mixed response from customers with some saying the bags would be inconvenient and would lead to cereal being squashed into dust.
Sainsburys print and packaging head Stuart Lendrum said: When it comes to cereal, our customers asked us why they need to be in a box as well as a bag when you can just print all the information on the bag. In response, we trialled cereals in a bag and a box, and weve now established that we can remove the box on Rice Pops without affecting the quality of the cereal. This is now on shelf and were looking at other cereals where we might be able to do the same.
The supermarket has committed to reducing its packaging weight by 33 per cent by 2015. This will be the boldest target ever set by a UK retailer to address packaging.
Speaking about the issue of switching cereal boxes to plastic bags, Waste & Resources Action Programme waste minimisation director Mark Barthel told Sky News: The key thing is to make sure that when you're switching from a bag in a box to a bag that you take account of how delicate the different types of cereals are. Putting muesli, rice pops and sugar puffs in a bag should be OK provided they are delivered to the supermarket shelf with enough protection. But something like cornflakes (a more delicate product) is slightly more tricky and needs a bit more thought.
According to Sainsburys, its customers always cite packaging as their number one green concern, ahead of beating carrier bags and food miles.
Customers also questioned why fruit and vegetables were bagged and boxed when they are already protected.
Sainsburys has introduced the following initiatives:
- Trialling swapping plastic bags around sweet potatoes with compostable nets;
- Packaging blueberries and cherry tomatoes in small bags like crisps; and
- Putting own-brand tomato puree in a tube without the box for the first time from September.