Sainsbury’s switches from plastic to cardboard for own-brand steak trays

By removing the plastic steak trays, Sainsbury’s will save 10 million pieces of plastic each year, a positive change in the world of packaging. The plastic replacement, carboard trays, are to be fully recyclable requiring only a rinse before being thrown into kerbside recycling bins.

The change will impact all steaks in the ‘By Sainsbury’s’ range, with the retailer having already replaced plastic trays with cardboard for its ‘Taste The Difference’ and ‘So Organic’ ranges.

Sainsbury’s’ director of product and innovation, Claire Hughes, said the retailer will need to make more “bold changes” to meet its environmental commitments.

Hughes said: “As part of our Plan for Better commitments, we are trying to reduce plastic packaging across our own brand ranges, as we know that reducing plastic is important to our customers but also on our environmental impact. It’s why we are always looking at ways to innovate our packaging and reduce or replace plastic wherever we can, as quickly as we can.

“While we are making good progress, we know there is more to do and we are committed to making bold changes that help us achieve our plastic reduction targets.”

This packaging development comes after many other packaging swaps at Sainsbury’s, including trayless whole chickens and the removal of plastic bags for bananas. With these changes already having saved 192 tonnes of plastic this year, the further plastic reduction from the steak tray switch is a welcome transition for eco-friendly packaging.

The continued changes are as a result of Sainsbury’s pledge to halve its use of plastic packaging on own-brand products by 2025.

With Sainsbury’s taking another step in the right direction, it is realistic to think that large competitor brands will follow suit.

Some have already swapped plastic packaging for cardboard in the meat aisle, including Aldi.

Others are looking for alternative packaging that uses far less plastic. Lidl GB last month confirmed plans to switch beef mince packaging from rigid plastic trays to vacuum-packed, flexible plastics – despite how unpopular this packaging has proven at Sainsbury’s.

Related feature: Do businesses need to go beyond recyclability and begin the process of ‘deplastification’?

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