// Sainsbury is committed to reducing plastic packaging by 50% by 2025
// Big 4 promises to switch to alternative materials and refillable options to meet consumer demand for less waste
// Sainsbury's is the first major retailer to launch a sustainability initiative on this scale
Sainsbury has made an ambitious commitment to reduce the use of plastic packaging by 50 percent by 2025.
This new target covers all food packaging under the Sainsbury brand, Sainsbury food packaging and packaging in all Sainsbury businesses.
Following a one-percent reduction in plastic packaging in 2018, the Big 4 retailer said a "rethink" was needed to move the industry beyond existing efforts.
Sainsbury's said it was the first major retailer in the UK to launch a sustainability initiative on this scale.
The food giant currently uses nearly 120,000 tonnes of plastic packaging per year, mainly in milk bottles, packaging for fruit and vegetables and beverages.
To reach the 20256 target, Sainsbury announced that it would launch a program to accelerate change and meet the rapidly growing consumer demand for less waste.
This includes the switch to alternative materials, the use of lighter plastics and the full scale introduction of reusable packaging.
For milk bottles, Sainsbury claims to have tested options such as the use of returnable bottles, reusable milk bottles or offering a reusable jug of milk in a lightweight plastic bag.
"We have set ourselves a bold ambition because we understand that we urgently need to reduce our impact on the planet and help spur change in our industry," said CEO Mike Coupe.
"Reducing plastic and packaging is not easy. The packaging plays a crucial role in the safety and freshness of our food and minimizing food waste.
"We therefore need to find alternatives to plastic that protect the quality of our food while minimizing its impact on the environment."
Sainsbury's said it would attend a summit today with suppliers, researchers and government groups to identify potential areas for a breakthrough.
The retailer has also created an area on its website for customers, employees, manufacturers, contractors and other interested parties to submit ideas for reducing plastic packaging.
Sainsbury has announced that it will work with Greenpeace on this commitment and will report publicly on progress every six months.
"We can not do this alone and will ask our suppliers and customers to work with us to help us make this important change," said Coupe.
Sainsbury has already launched several sustainability initiatives, including the introduction of recyclable plastic trays for refrigerated ready meals.
Introduced in July, the Big Retailer is replacing CPR, a form of recyclable plastic, with all black plastic trays that are difficult to recycle.
The new material will be completely introduced in all stores by November.
Sainsbury's is currently in an attempt to recycle plastic bottles by testing recycling machines in the shop that customers pay for each bottle returned, and another attempt to remove all disposable plastic bags with reusable drawstrings from the fruit and vegetable courses to produce.
Waitrose, Iceland, M & S, Lidl and the Big 4 rivals Morrisons, Asda and Tesco have also begun to reinforce their own efforts in the fight against plastic and food waste with their own sustainability initiatives.
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