Last week, Sainsbury’s earned a dubious distinction. It is now the UK’s first large supermarket chain to be prosecuted for using excessive packaging.
The case, being brought by trading standards at Lincolnshire County Council alleges that a beef product from a market in Lincoln does not meet the legal requirements for packaging.
According to the Telegraph:
Peter Heafield, head of trading standards at Lincolnshire County Council, told the Lincolnshire Echo: “Excessive packaging on goods can cause unnecessary damage to the environment and increase costs associated with recycling and landfill.
“Lincolnshire County Council has a duty to enforce regulations, which require businesses to review and reduce their packaging so items are packaged only in a way that is necessary for issues such as protection of the product and consumer acceptance.
“Following a consumer complaint about a product available in Sainsbury’s, trading standards carried out an investigation that has resulted in the matter being brought before the court.”
A court hearing is scheduled for next month.
Obviously, packaging is essential to ensure that foods –particularly meats –remain fresh, and without a doubt, it’s clear that packaging has impacts throughout the value chain. However, as this case illustrates, there is still plenty of room for debate about how much packaging is necessary. Many companies are now walking a fine line as they work to optimize packaging performance while minimizing the risks of supply chain inefficiencies and maximizing benefits to a company’s overall sustainability plan. Plus, of course, business are feeling more pressure from their customers, other stakeholders and (in the UK) regulators, too.