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Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s to Cut Packaging Carbon Footprint 10% by 2012

plasticbottlesAsda, Boots, Tesco and Sainsbury’s are some of the biggest UK retailers that have voluntarily agreed to reduce the carbon footprint of their grocery packaging by 10 percent by 2012, according to Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP). Cuts will be achieved through weight reduction, increased recycling rates, and higher recycled content.

In addition to packaging targets, the Courtauld Commitment 2 also aims to reduce UK household food and drink wastes by four percent, and grocery supply chain product and packaging waste by five percent by 2012, using 2009 as a baseline. So far, 29 major retailers and brand owners have agreed to help WRAP deliver the target reductions.

The latest targets expand the original Courtauld Commitment launched in 2005 that helped reduce 500,000 tons of packaging from 2005 to 2009.

“One of the biggest challenges society faces over the next decade is reducing the environmental impact of the things we buy. This new agreement will bring about changes ranging from more efficient methods of production right through to the impact of household consumption,” said Liz Goodwin, WRAP CEO, in a statement. “It’s no longer enough to look at the impact of packaging alone — that’s why Courtauld Commitment 2 takes into account the environmental impact of product waste in the supply chain as well as at household level.”

The 28 founding signatories are AG Barr, Apetito, Arla Foods, Asda, Boots UK, Britvic, Constellation Europe, Cooperative Retail, Dairy Crest, Danone Dairies, Danone Water, Fosters EMEA, HJ Heinz, Innocent Soft Drinks, Mars (UK), Molson Coors, Morrisons, Muller Dairies, Musgraves, Nestle, Northern Foods, Robert Wisemans, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Unilever, Vimto, Waitrose, Warburtons and Weetabix.

Packaging News reports that retailer Marks & Spencer will also sign the Courtauld Commitment 2. A study last year ranked the retailer as the UK supermarket with the worst packaging impact. This year, the retailer said it plans to sell only items that have at least one “eco” or “ethical” attribute with 50 percent of its products meeting the standard by 2015 and 100 percent by 2020.

The UK government recently called for all supermarket food labels to show their carbon footprint, country of origin and animal welfare standards.

In conjunction with the launch of Courtauld Commitment 2, Tesco announced it will replace its glass-bottled own-brand spirits with plastic bottles, which delivers an 86 percent reduction in packaging, while helping the company meet its goal of reducing the carbon impact of its products by 30 percent by 2020, reports MRW.

Tesco also unveiled the lightest wine bottle at 300g, which is 30 percent lighter than the supermarket’s previous lightest own-label bottles and will save 560 tons of glass annually, according to MRW. The retailer is also evaluating the carbon footprint of 500 products, which so far indicates that packaging is a small percentage of their overall footprint. Tesco’s carbon label program kicked off in April 2008.

Some of the participating retailers also have announced packaging reduction programs on their own over the past year. As an example, Asda, the UK subsidiary of Wal-Mart Stores, plans to introduce a packaging scorecard similar to Wal-Mart this year.

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