UK supermarket chain Asda has announced that it intends to reduce the amount of own label packaging by 25 per cent over the next twelve months.
The announcement, a continuation of the retailer's drive to reduce packaging waste going to landfill as part of an agreement with Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap), will put further pressure of packagers to meet these aims.
Wrap is a government-backed programme charged with ensuring that the UK meets EU requirements on reducing waste throughout the bloc.
The UK government is focusing on retailers so they can push their suppliers to cut down on packaging waste, either by reducing the amount they use for their products, or by switching to more recyclable, reusable and biodegradable materials.
Asda has announced it intends to increase the amount fresh produce sold loose from boxes and reduce its range of own label pre-packed products sold in its stores across the country.
Asda said that retail experts suspect consumers choose pre-packed items of fruit and vegetables through habit as much as convenience.
Emma Sinclair-Morris, anti-packaging expert at Asda said the company believes the changes are a return to traditional retailing methods and could have a huge impact on daily packaging waste.
"Reducing packaging is one of Asda's key objectives, and we are considering every option to achieve this goal."
Asda also announced this week that it has launched a study in two of its stores to which could spell the end for packaging used for fresh fruit and vegetables and the return to traditional displays of loose products.
About 60 pre-pack products will be removed as part of the trial with only delicate fruits like raspberries that require packaging to protect them remaining on sale. Some convenience products like pre-prepared vegetables will also remain on sale during the trial.
If the trial is successful, the scheme will be rolled out to every Asda store across the UK.
The Courtauld Commitment is an agreement between 13 retailers and WRAP, and was developed in partnership with Defra, the Scottish Executive, theWelsh Assembly Government, the British and Scottish Retails Consortia and the IGD.
Those who have made pledges include Asda, Boots, Budgens, the Co-operative Group, Londis, Iceland, Kwik Save, Marks & Spencer, Morrison's, Sainsbury's, Somerfield, Tesco and Waitrose.
The commitment calls for them to design out packaging waste growth by 2008, to deliver absolute reductions in packaging waste by March 2010 and to identify ways to tackle the problem of food waste.