Roger Burnley

Source: Asda

We are planning to test even more innovative packaging solutions such as refillables and reusables, says Burnley

Sir, Over the last couple of years, our industry has been at the forefront of consumer concern about overuse of plastic packaging, and rightly so. Whilst we all take seriously our responsibility to ensure products reach our customers in the best condition, some of our packaging decisions have been more about making our lives simple than considering the impact we have on the wider environment.

We know that our customers will always look to us to provide great value products that meet their needs – and they need us to be a part of the solution in tackling the global plastics crisis, not part of the problem.

There’s no doubt that many companies understand this. I’m clear that I want Asda to work with suppliers who are taking meaningful action to address the issue and to have products on our shelves that are clearly taking their responsibilities to reducing avoidable plastic seriously. I’m committed to this because it’s the right thing to do for the environment and our communities, and it’s essential to future-proof all of our businesses.

We’ve already seen some fantastic innovation come through our supply base, from fully recyclable ready meal trays to meat in pouches, and doing away with plastic pots to sell herbs in soil plugs. Over the course of a year, our own-brand suppliers have helped us to reduce our plastic usage by 6,500 tonnes and as we look into 2020, we are already planning to test even more innovative packaging solutions in our stores, such as refillables and reusables.

All of these changes require the willingness to take a step into the unknown – and I know that in a highly competitive market, there can often be little room for error. I want to work with suppliers to help smooth out some of those learning curves.

I’m inviting any company with a testable idea to reduce, reuse or recycle plastic to come forward, whether branded or own brand, large or small, and whether the idea is scalable in one shop or to 600. The idea could be packaging or products, a recycling solution or supply chain innovation – we’re entirely open minded.

We will provide space and opportunity to test ideas, in a real store with real customers, giving genuine and tangible feedback on what works and what doesn’t. The trials will last at least three months, giving both parties the opportunity to review and move on quickly where needed. We need to think big, start small and scale fast.

Nothing will be achieved without being bold and working together. I hope that you’ll join us.