So I said….

To Sainsbury’s, with whom I was feeling distinctly unimpressed after a little back ‘n’ forth with their customer services (see

“Dear Ms McGuiness,

Thank you for your response.

Your email has done nothing whatsoever to reassure me of Sainsbury’s commitment to the environment.

When I start walking into your stores to find fewer and fewer fruit & veg items packaged, then I will start to be reassured.  Recycling IS NOT and SHOULD NOT be our first concern for the environment. Our first concern is REDUCE. How are unpackaged tomatoes unsafe? Unbagged apples, potatoes, plums?

I do understand that Sainsbury’s have recycling in store, that you have the ‘bag for life’ scheme and that you mark your products with approved recycling markings. But how many of your own neighbours are really good at recycling? Because I live in an educated, affluent neighbourhood where most people are absolutely useless at recyling. I see so much going into the dustbin that ought to be in the recycling bins it makes me upset. And we need to reduce our recycling. We need to reduce full stop. That’s where I feel quality, respected brands like Sainsbury’s can and should blaze the trail for a clean, green England.

Thank you for your time,

Kind regards


and they said

“Dear Ms Madelin,

Thank you for your further email in response to my colleague, Catherine.

I would like to assure you that your comments have been logged and will be fed back to the relevant teams to review. Please be assured we take all customer feedback seriously.

We also have some further information on our corporate site regarding our 20×20 commitments and having respect for our environment, which I hope will be of some interest to you. I have included a link below:

We will closely monitor any further comments of a similar nature and work towards further reducing our impact on the environment.

We appreciate you taking the time to respond and thank you for your feedback.

Yours sincerely,

Lynn Wilson

Customer Manager”


All I can say to that is – true change is possible – Check out this ZERO PACKAGING supermarket in Berlin.  If they can do it….


Dear Sainsbury’s – their response

A few weeks back I posted a copy of an email I sent to the UK supermarket chain ‘Sainsbury’s’ about the excessive packaging of fresh fruit and veg in their stores.

I received a reply.  I think you’ll agree it’s disastrously inadequate and only shows how little Sainsbury’s in fact care about the environment. How can I be reassured when every visit to their supermarket I find fewer and fewer items available loose and unpackaged?


My email:


Dear Sainsburys,

ARGH. Is all I can open with. Have you walked, recently, with open eyes into your fruit and vegetable section? PACKAGING. On almost everything. Non-recyclable film and endless clear trays. Yes, the trays are recyclable, but what energy is used in their manufacture, and re-manufacture? And how many of your customers really and truly care enough to even bother putting them in the recycling? Not many, I can assure you.

Last time I went to Sainsbury’s I was left with one choice of tomatoes if I wanted to avoid packaging. My daughter asked for small tomatoes, I had to refuse. Some people have to bother to make a stand on these things. I want a planet left for the grandchildren I hope I have one day. Do you want one for yours?

It’s up to corporations like Sainsbury’s to lead the way. What was wrong with gorgeous piles of delicious veg for us to choose from? We don’t need you to decide that we want ten little tomatoes, let us dive into a delightful pile and have eleven. The French seem to manage okay with this style of shopping along with many other cultures.

And packets, packets, packets of croissant and pancakes etc etc.

Hooray – I bought a new roll of biodegradable caddy liners the other day and the packaging had actually been reduced. But that was in cardboard before, not layers of plastic. A drop in a very, very large flood.

We love Sainsbury’s outdoor bred pork sausages but I wince each time I buy them in their black plastic tray. Here in Bristol we have pretty good recycling, but they can’t take black plastic. That’s all your ‘premium’ products I need to avoid buying too.

I’d like to know what you’re doing to reduce, seriously reduce, the packaging in your products. It’s ridiculous in 2014 that companies like Sainsbury’s are using more, not less, packaging. We know better. Please do better.

Yours faithfully,

Naomi Madelin

Emailed to Sainsbury’s 27th August 2014.


Sainsbury’s response received 29th August:


Dear Ms Madelin

Thank you for your email about the packaging on our products. I can understand your concerns about the amount of packaging on our fruit and vegtables.

We also share your concerns about the effects of plastic on the environment and, for a number of years, have been focused on reducing our packaging. One of our aims, as part of our 20×20 Sustainability Plan, is to reduce it by half compared to 2005.

Each time we review a product, we also review the packaging. The challenge we face is to reduce packaging without sacrificing its importance and effectiveness on the freshness and safety of our products. Most importantly, it must protect the product for our customers and then, where possible, use recyclable material.

At the same time, we want to help our customers to recycle. To do this we use the on-pack recycling label scheme supported by WRAP. This aims to deliver a simple, UK-wide recycling message on both own brand and branded products.

I am grateful to you for writing to us about this important issue and I hope I have been able to reassure you of our commitment to the environment.

Yours sincerely,

Catherine McGuinness

Customer Manager

Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd