Sainsbury’s has announced that it will remove all traditional plastic tray packaging across its entire beef mince range and replace it with a vacuum-packed alternative, saving approximately 450 tonnes of plastic a year.
The new packaging format, which uses a minimum of 55% less plastic, will support the retailer’s goal of halving plastic packaging use across its own brand products by 2025.
The supermarket chain’s beef mince will be vacuum-packed by removing all oxygen, leading to a longer shelf life. The packaging will contain the same amount of beef mince, but use fewer materials and be lighter in weight.
Claire Hughes, director of product and innovation at Sainsbury’s, said: “We know our customers expect us to be reducing the use of plastic across our products, and we’re constantly looking for new ways to innovate to meet our ‘Plan for Better’ plastic reduction targets”.
She continued: “We strive to be bold in the changes we are making, which is why we’re pleased to be the first UK retailer to vacuum-pack all our beef mince range without impacting the quantity or great quality of products that our customers expect. This is the latest in a long line of changes we have pioneered in the space working collaboratively with our suppliers, and customers can expect much more to come from Sainsbury’s.”
However, some companies have raised concerns that this transition may encourage consumers to dispose of the packaging through inappropriate streams.
Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet, said: “Flexible plastics are almost impossible to recycle, especially where they are food contaminated. The old, rigid plastic packaging would at least have gone into recycling, however limited the UK’s systems are. The new vacuum packs will instead be thrown into general waste and end up [being] incinerated.”
She added: “The big brands really need to wean themselves off single-use materials altogether, offering produce in reusable packaging instead. Human beings have been eating mince much longer than they have relied on single-use plastic to package it.”
Consumers are now able to purchase beef mince in the revamped packaging in-store and online.
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