Sainsbury Sustainable Packaging Initiatives


John Sainsbury founded Sainsbury’s in 1869; his first store was located on Drury Lane and was a small dairy, selling just butter, eggs, milk and later cheese. Until the mid 1990’s it was Britain’s largest grocery retailer. However, in 1995 it lost the top spot to Tesco and eight years later, in 2003, was pushed into third place by Asda (Walmart). Sainsbury currently has more than 500 stores in the UK .

For an interesting look at the history of Sainsbury take a look at The Sainsbury Archive. The archives are a unique collection of more than 16,000 documents, photographs and objects, which illustrate the history of today’s supermarket chain.

According to the Archive website:

Sainsbury’s early grocery packaging used various elaborate and colorful designs, but common styles and colors can be seen on some labels. By the 1940s, the importance of design to unify the company image was recognized. Alan Sainsbury wrote that:

“Although the quality of the particular food… is what finally counts with the discerning housewife, it should be the aim of the progressive retailer to present his wares in the most attractive dress and, if he sells food, in the most hygienic manner.”

This is certainly an interesting thought from the founder of Sainsbury, it gives a glimpse into the mind of a grocer well before the invention of “Brand Management” Fast forward to today and Sainsbury is featured in the October Edition of Brand Packaging Magazine two Sainsbury products were featured in their first Sustainable Packaging Design Gallery. Below are excerpts from the article.


Sainsbury’s milk

Though it may be some time before the phrase, “Pick up a bag of milk and a loaf of bread on your way home,” becomes the norm, U.K. retailer Sainsbury’s is still betting that a revolutionary new milk packaging system will be a hit with green consumers.
The JUGIT concept is comprised of a recyclable pouch that fits into a specially designed reusable jug. The bags are made from a low density plastic material specifically tested for strength and durability. After the pouch is dropped into the jug and the main body of the lid closed-trapping the top of the bag using secure clips-a spike attachment on the inside of the lid punctures the pouch and forms a no-leak seal. A recloseable spout then flips open for pouring.
The system has the potential to reduce packaging waste by 75 percent. Sainsbury’s is reportedly considering using the bags for its own-brand juice and is also examining alternatives to the wine box, using the same packaging technology. JUGIT concept: Dairy Crest; Injection-molded jug: RPC Group
Sustainability Criteria: Compostable/Recyclable Package; Reusable/Refillable Format; Source Reduced/Lightweighted

SO Organic Wild Rocket salad

sainsburys_saladSainsbury also introduced its SO Organic Wild Rocket salad in non-genetically modified, compostable film in select stores last year. The package was developed in response to shopper requests for such products and the retailer’s own goals for sustainability-and it was developed without compromising the product’s shelf life or the package’s performance (particularly the seal).
The unique film is a technical achievement in that it works on moist and damp products like fresh produce and salads; it has industrial compost certification; and it is “progressing well” with home composting testing-achievements that many competitive materials are unable to realize.
Branding is clean and simple, calling out the retailer’s SO Organic identity, but letting the fresh greens take center stage.
Sainsbury’s reports that 90 percent of its SO Organic produce is now available in recycled, recyclable or compostable packaging. The retailer is working to reduce and recycle its packaging materials overall and, as in the case of this film, to help reduce the amount of packaging customers need to discard after shopping at Sainsbury’s. Compostable film: Amcor Flexibles, Flextrus
Sustainability Criteria: Recycled/Renewable Materials; Compostable/Recyclable Package

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Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.