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DS Smith helps Waitrose & Partners launch UK’s first cardboard grape punnets

Retailer reduces its use of plastic packaging, saving 12 tonnes of plastic each year through grape punnet switch

The employee-owned supermarket, Waitrose & Partners, wanted to reduce  the unnecessary use of plastic packaging to help meet a company-wide pledge on packaging sustainability. To provide an innovative and sustainable solution for its Duchy Organic grape punnet, the supermarket turned to fruit supplier Primafruit and leading packaging company DS Smith to begin a collaborative packaging design process.

A simple swap

By bringing the three leading companies together, Waitrose & Partners achieved a packaging solution that would not only reduce the use of plastic packaging but also optimise the pack line to ensure efficiencies were gained throughout the supply chain. In collaboration, Waitrose & Partners, DS Smith and Primafruit produced a unique cardboard punnet - a closed-loop solution consisting of recycled fibres which are fully recyclable at their end of life.

By simply exchanging the plastic punnet for a cardboard version, the sustainable credentials of the packaging were instantly increased – and predicted to save Waitrose & Partners 12 tonnes of plastic packaging a year.

David Ellerington, Head of Business Development, UK Packaging for DS Smith explains, “The increasing focus on sustainability and environmental impact means that consumers are very aware of the impact of their product’s packaging. By transitioning to cardboard, the entire supply chain benefits and consumers can more easily recycle the packaging.

“Cardboard is a truly biodegradable and 100% recyclable packaging material – made from the fibres of recycled paper and cardboard. This not only avoids the felling of new trees, but also ensures that the packaging is easily recyclable at the kerbside for consumers at its end of life.”

Cardboard is a lightweight but strong packaging material that also makes transporting the punnets more manageable for Waitrose & Partners in-store.

The move to a cardboard tray for Waitrose Duchy Organic grapes was the first pledge to be met as part of Waitrose & Partners’ seven packaging pledges to honour The Prince of Wales’s seven decades and leadership on sustainability. The step-change is expected to save an initial 12 tonnes of plastic a year.

Tor Harris, Waitrose & Partners said, “The amount of plastic we will remove by switching from plastic punnets to cardboard is significant and this packaging first for our Waitrose Duchy Organic and Waitrose 1 Sable grapes highlights our continued efforts to reduce unnecessary plastic packaging wherever we possibly can.”

Packaging for the customer

Not only is the new packaging solution environmentally friendly, but it also offers Waitrose Duchy Organic the opportunity to increase its brand visibility in-store. The shape of the new punnet also allows for a flexible shelf position, making in-store merchandising of the produce easier and more adaptable to the layout of each individual Waitrose & Partners supermarket.

David Ellerington adds, “The new design allows Waitrose Duchy Organic to print on four sides of the punnet to showcase the premium quality of its produce.”

For more information on DS Smith and its digital print capabilities, please visit: https://www.dssmith.com/packaging

For more information on Waitrose & Partners and its packaging pledges, please visit: https://www.waitrose.com/home/inspiration/about_waitrose/the_waitrose_way/packaging.html