Waitrose announces a target to cut its packaging in half by 2016. The retailer has announced three major changes to its product ranges that will help achieve this target, together saving nearly 100 metric tons of packaging each year.

The Menu from Waitrose range of prepared meals has been relaunched with a full redesign and packaging update for all of the 49 products within the range. The width of the sleeves on the outside of the products has been decreased, resulting in a reduction of 33 metric tons of packaging per year - equivalent to a 20% overall weight saving.

It is also the first time that a retailer has introduced aluminum trays, lacquered both internally and externally, for ready meals achieving a more attractive, earthenware appearance. This means that customers can cook and serve the meals in the same tray and are still able to recycle it after use.

The Good to Go range of 190 snacks and sandwiches has also been re-launched, with packaging reductions totaling 25 metric tons per year. Changes include increasing the size of the clear window on sandwiches to allow better visibility of the product, cutting 11 metric tons of packaging per year. Pre-printed bags for fruit portions were also developed, saving 60% of the weight by taking off the label.

And - after being introduced for mince and diced meat in 2010 - ‘flow wrap’ packaging has now been gradually rolled out for all meat including lamb and pork. By removing the plastic tray in the packs of pork and lamb, Waitrose will be cutting back on 38 metric tons of packaging per year - a 70% saving.

The packs can be easily snipped open and the contents slid into the pan, saving time in the kitchen as well as space in the refuse sack. The robust yet lightweight nature means they can withstand other items being placed on top of them in the shopping bag and take up less space in the fridge.

Waitrose Packaging and Reprographics Manager, Karen Graley says: “We are always working hard to reduce packaging where we can, to decrease the waste reaching our customers’ bins and ensure they can recycle as much as possible. Re - launching a range is a fantastic opportunity to do this and cutting packaging by nearly 100 metric tons per year is a great result to have achieved on our journey to halving packaging by 2016.”