This week, Sainsbury’s is launching a new trial which makes it the first UK retailer to reduce plastic packaging in fresh floral ranges on a large scale.

The 12 week trial, which will run in 167 Sainsbury’s stores, marks another step towards achieving the company’s commitment to reduce plastics by 50% by 2025, across all Sainsbury’s food operations.

Plastic sleeves will be removed from more than one million fresh floral bunches and bouquets and replaced with recyclable paper packaging during the trial, saving over 10 tonnes of plastic. The sticky tape used to secure the wrapping will also be replaced with recyclable paper tape.

Sainsbury’s has worked with its suppliers to ensure that paper wrapping is introduced at the point of manufacture, rather than plastic wrapping being removed from the flowers and replaced with paper.

“We are proud to be the first retailer to trial a large scale reduction of fresh floral plastics across 167 of our stores. Our customers have made it clear that they want us to reduce plastic packaging," said Judith Batchelar, Director of Sainsbury’s Brand.

“This initiative is very much a testing and learning activity for us, so we will be seeking feedback from customers as well as getting a better understanding of how our supply chain manages the new packaging throughout. This latest trial supports our broader goal of reducing, reusing, replacing and recycling more plastic.”

Sainsbury’s will closely monitor the supply chain process and customer feedback over the next 12 weeks to assess the overall performance of the trial before making a decision on next steps.

The trial will run into December and follows a range of initiatives the retailer has launched as part of its efforts to reduce, reuse, replace and recycle more plastic.

Sainsbury’s is also working alongside government and other businesses to support research and innovation in packaging and find long term, sustainable alternatives to plastic.

The retailer is looking to open source ideas, with a dedicated page on its website for customers, colleagues, manufacturers, entrepreneurs and other interested parties to submit ideas to help reduce plastic packaging: Since the launch of this online tool, Sainsbury’s has received over 600 suggestions.

Sainsbury’s is the first retailer to launch a ‘pre-cycling’ scheme across England and Scotland, allowing customers to deposit their unwanted plastic packaging before leaving the store. This scheme will offer customers dedicated recycle bins in stores and aims to recycle up to 1000 items per day in each store through the scheme. This scheme is an initial trial in 15 stores.

In addition, Sainsbury’s is launching the following initiatives over the coming weeks:
• Removing plastic bags from its bakery sections after a successful trial in three stores, removing 26 tonnes
• Removing plastic bags from fresh produce departments – plastic bags will be replaced with reusable produce bags, removing 480 tonnes per year
• Removing all plastic bags from online grocery deliveries from the start of October
• Replacing hard-to-recycle black plastic with more easily recyclable natural CPET trays in all chilled ready meals, including the new Taste the Difference range of Indian ready meals - this is set to save 180 tonnes of plastic
• Launching an exclusive partnership with Tefal to encourage customers to recycle used kitchenware in 333 stores

The supermarket has also announced that it has removed plastic trays from all feta cheese displays saving 36 tonnes of plastic each year.