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Sainsbury’s Cuts Milk Packaging by 75%

Sainsbury’s is set to become the first retailer in the UK to launch a full range of milk products packaged in polyethylene bags, which use 75 percent less packaging than equivalent two-pint plastic bottles, as part of its target to reduce packaging by one-third by 2015. Since it uses less packaging, it’s also cheaper to produce. The retailer is passing the cost savings on to customers.

Customers switching to bags could save up to 1,400,000 kg of packaging every year, says Sainsbury’s. The retailer began selling milk bags at its supermarkets in February 2010, starting with its semi-skimmed milk bag.

Sainsbury’s is fully committed to marketing the product, in partnership with supplier Dairy Crest, now that consumers know how to use the new plastic bag packaging after a series of technical modifications and an education program, reports The Guardian.

This is despite the failure of a similar product by rival supermarket Waitrose, which launched in 2007 and was removed from the market in April, according to the article.

Sainsbury’s reports that the new packaging has improved sales. Shoppers now buy 120,000 semi-skimmed milk bags per week, which is one in every ten 2 pint semi-skimmed units sold. Sainsbury’s expects this figure to double following the expansion.

Sainsbury’s milk bags are designed to fit into a re-useable jug, giving away over half a million of the jugs to its customers in April. It now sells over 4,000 jugs per week.

Whole milk is now available in the new “milk bags,”  while skimmed and 1% fat milk bags are expected to launch in June 2011. Sixty percent of Sainsbury’s consumers in Canada, Poland, South Africa and China buy milk sold in bags.

Other packaging reduction efforts includes Sainsbury’s plans to sell its own-brand cereals in recyclable plastic packets to eliminate cardboard cereal boxes from its shelves. It’s also one of the biggest UK retailers that have voluntarily agreed to reduce the carbon footprint of their grocery packaging by 10 percent by 2012.

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