Sainsbury’s to launch refillable lines in bid to halve plastics packaging

Sainsbury's has confirmed that it will launch refillable versions of products such as milk and fizzy drinks in the coming years, as it strives to halve the amount of plastics it uses for packaging by 2025.

Sainsbury’s to launch refillable lines in bid to halve plastics packaging

Greenpeace had been campaigning for supermarkets such as Sainsbury's to introduce refillable packaging. Image: Sainsbury's 

That 2025 target, set in 2018, will see the supermarket reduce its annual plastic use for packaging to 60,000 tonnes or less, compared to 12,000 tonnes in 2017.

Since setting the goal, Sainsbury’s has begun removing plastic packaging from products such as tampons and phasing out single-use plastic bags from its fruit, vegetable and bakery aisles.

But in order to reach it, the firm’s chief executive Mike Coupe confirmed this week, Sainsbury’s will need to start offering refillable versions of some of its best-selling lines over the next five years.

Products earmarked for inclusion in this offering include milk, which will be housed in glass bottles with either refill stations or flexible plastic bags offered in stores, as well as water, fizzy drinks and fruit juices.

Sainsbury’s has also confirmed that it will need to remove plastics from more of its fruit and vegetable lines to meet its 2025 ambition.

While the company has not yet confirmed exactly what its packaging-free and refill options will look like or when they will be launched, Coupe said they would bring about “refillable packaging at scale” for the supermarket sector.

“We must find alternatives to plastic that protect the quality of our food while minimising our impact on the environment,” Coupe said, adding that Sainsbury’s will publish updates on its plastics reduction every six months going forward.

Refill revolution

Given that only 9% of all plastic ever made has been recycled – and with 82% of UK shoppers now stating that the amount of plastic packaging produced by companies needs to be “drastically reduced” – business models centred around packaging-free or refillable options are gaining more ground.

Waitrose & Partners recently extended its ‘Unpacked’ offering of following a successful trial of the concept at its Botley Road store in Oxford, for example, while Marks & Spencer (M&S) is offering customers a discount for bringing reusable containers to its Market Place counters for meals-to-go.

And, away from the supermarket space, City To Sea has amassed 20,000+ water bottle refill points on its interactive map since its Refill campaign launched in 2017. Refill points are being hosted by the likes of transport companies, independent retailers and high-street food outlets such as Itsu, Pret a Manger, Starbucks, Leon, Greggs and Costa Coffee.

Other brands to have made forays into the refill space in recent months include the likes of the Coca-Cola Company, through its water brand Dasani, Evian, and Unilever, for its Cif cleaning products.  

Sarah George

Comments (1)

  1. Keiron Shatwell says:

    It’s a start but how about refillable versions of shampoo, conditioner, laundry detergent, washing up liquid and other daily essentials?

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