UK grocer Waitrose has introduced new reduced plastic packaging for its British strawberries, which will help eliminate 16.89 tons of plastic and adhesive this summer.

The new “Air-Light” container, which will come via Waitrose’s long-time supplier Berry Gardens, is made of 80% recycled material, is more lightweight, and incorporates a cushioned design that helps protect the fruit from damage. This has eliminated the need for a separate bubble pad used in past designs to maintain product quality. In turn, the glue used to fix the pad to the packaging has also been removed.

Eliminating the bubble wrap and adhesive from the basket on the 400g UK sourced Strawberries eliminates 4.49 tons of plastic and adhesive from these products. Re-designing and light-weighting the punnets (basket) as part of this innovation has removed a further 12.4 tons of plastic. The total saved in this trial alone will be 16.89 tons (plastic + adhesive). The new punnet will be used initially by select British farms supplying Waitrose that have signed up to the trial and feature exclusively across 400g/ British origin packs and Waitrose’s Duchy private brand strawberry range.

Marija Rompani, Director of Ethics & Sustainability at the John Lewis Partnership

The punnet, which has been developed by packaging company Sharpak, will be available in select stores and across select lines** as part of a trial throughout the summer. The trial period will be used to ensure product quality is maintained and is expected to roll out more widely next summer if successful.

Marija Rompani, Director of Ethics & Sustainability at the John Lewis Partnership, comments:  “Strawberries and cream has been a staple of the summer since they were first introduced to Wimbledon in the late 1800s. While many fans will still have to watch events from their living rooms this year, British strawberries are thankfully now in season – meaning a big part of the tradition can still be enjoyed by all, and this further reduction in plastic packaging will help make them taste all the sweeter this summer.”

The British strawberry season has been delayed due to poor weather in May but a bolster crop is now expected from June onwards as the country enjoys sunnier conditions. The warm weather this bank holiday weekend saw strawberry sales increase by 18% compared to the previous weekend.

Waitrose was ranked number one earlier this year in Greenpeace’s league table for its work to reduce single-use plastics.