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The BBC's Nicola Carslaw
"Organic food is big business"
 real 56k

Friday, 5 January, 2001, 07:28 GMT
Supermarket chain's war on waste
Sainsbury's potatoes
Sainsbury's plans a novel way to cut down on waste
Trays made from potatoes are to be used as environmentally-friendly packaging by a supermarket chain.

Sainsbury's is to introduce the biodegradable packaging on its organic range of fruit and vegetables from the end of January.

It is hoped the new packaging will help cut down on the estimated four million tonnes of packaging sent to landfill sites every year.

The packaging, which has taken eight years to perfect, is made of dried baked potato starch mixed with water and cellulose fibres, said a Sainsbury's spokesman.

A plastic laminate used to protect the inside of the tray is made from a polyester-based material which is also totally biodegradable.

Customers want us to keep packaging to a minimum and where possible ensure it is environmentally-friendly

Sir Peter Davis

Sainsbury's chief executive Sir Peter Davis will unveil plans for the new packaging in a speech to the Soil Association's national conference in Cirencester, Gloucestershire on Friday.

Sainsbury's said the special trays will be used in all 437 of its stores nationwide and should fully biodegrade in about 14 days.

Customers will be told that the best way to dispose of the trays is on a compost heap but they will also decompose naturally in the garden or even a window box.

Sainsbury's chief executive Sir Peter Davis
Sir Peter Davis says he is giving customers what they want

Even the label is produced without a coating so it is also biodegradable, added the chain.

Sir Peter said: "Customers want us to keep packaging to a minimum and where possible ensure it is environmentally friendly.

Waste reduction

"We are committed to reducing waste and the biodegradable trays are an important breakthrough because packaging represents 20% of waste from UK households.

"It is estimated that the biodegradable trays could prevent 200 tonnes of packaging being sent to landfill each year.

"If this innovation proves popular with our customers, we would like to use these trays more widely."

Sainsbury's said it was also looking at other areas where biodegradable packaging could be used, including a starch-based netting material for organic oranges.

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