October 11 2019

That squeezy plastic bottle ranty Tweet: Sainsbury’s respond…

You know how, some days, something just suddenly drives you crazy? Well I had one of those moments just yesterday.

I was attempting to squeeze out the last (hefty) dollops from a bottle of squeezy mayonnaise. Now I tend not to buy squeezy bottles at all: they’re a waste of plastic; the lids are rarely recyclable; gram for gram, they tend to be far more expensive than their glass jar counterparts… and you can never get the last few (hefty) dollops out of the bottle without risking losing half a finger in the process. But I’d had a friend to stay, and he’d left his mayo behind, so there we have it.

Halfway through attempting to saw the bottle in half in order to get at the last gloopy servings out, I saw red (which was unusual, given that we’re talking mayo here.) So, like people who see red often do these days, I took to Twitter: “Dear @Hellmanns @heinzUK @sainsburys @Tesco @coopuk,” I ranted (and to be fair, I could have copied many more companies in – I mean, really; who wants or needs a squeezy Branston Pickle, or a squeezy Marmite jar?) “Which one of you will be the first to stop producing squeezy sauce/mayo bottles that encourage food waste and clog up recycling facilities?”

Now I didn’t particularly hold my breath for a response from the companies I’d copied in to my Tweet. But within three hours of posting it, I received the following email from Adam, @sainsburys:

Thanks for getting in contact. Plastic packaging is used to prevent cross contamination and to maintain the freshness of produce. The packaging also ensures that the items are safe for consumption. We’ve set a target to reduce plastic packaging by 50% by 2025. To meet this goal, we will launch a programme to accelerate change, which will include switching to alternative materials, using lighter-weight plastics and introducing refillable packaging at scale. Following rigorous analysis of its plastic footprint, the key areas of focus for the biggest impact are: plastic milk bottles, packaging for fruit and vegetables, fizzy drinks, water and fruit juices.”

Okay, so no mention of squeezy bottles. But as Tesco love to tell us (hello, Tesco: where are you on this?) every little helps… and anyway, we’ve all got the power vote with our wallets. But I was also offered the opportunity to make my thoughts on overuse of my personal plastic bugbear known to Sainsburys HQ – and you can too.

We’re also looking to open source ideas,” says Adam. “From today, we have an area on our website for customers, colleagues, manufacturers, entrepreneurs and other interested parties to submit ideas to help reduce plastic packaging (click on this link to ready more.) Additionally, we will work with Greenpeace on this commitment and will report publicly on progress every six months.”

So there we have it: good work, Sainsburys, and thank you for the speedy response. I eagerly await hearing back from Heinz, Tesco, the Co-op and Hellmans on this – so far, though, they’ve squeezed out of getting in touch.

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