September 17, 2010 4.05 pm This story is over 162 months old

County Council’s beef with Sainsbury’s

Joint action: Lincoln County Council has taken legal action against Sainsbury’s over excess packaging.

Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) are taking legal action against supermarket chain Sainsbury’s for allegedly using too much packaging on their beef joints.

The case states Lincolnshire County Council’s trading standards called for action to be taken because the supermarket’s Taste the Difference beef joint had three layers of plastic around it.

The council claimed Sainsbury’s broke a seven-year-old law called the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations. It’s the first time a supermarket has ever been prosecuted under the act.

The act states that packaging should be designed “to minimise its impact on the environment when packaging waste or residues from packaging waste management operations are disposed of.”

The problematic Sainsbury's beef packaging.

The news comes after Sainsbury’s, fronted in their adverts by chef Jamie Oliver, announced on Thursday that they were reducing their cereal packaging to just bags.

They have also moved their tomatoes into cartons rather than tins, and milk is now sold in thin bags. The third biggest supermarket said this will save 165 tonnes of packaging per year.

The case follows a complaint made by a customer at Sainsbury’s Tritton Road branch in February, who then contacted Lincolnshire County Council.

Peter Heafield, Head of Trading Standards at Lincolnshire County Council said: “Excessive packaging on goods can cause unnecessary damage to the environment and increase costs associated with recycling and landfill.

“LCC has a duty to enforce regulations, which require businesses to review and reduce their packaging so items are packaged only in a way that is necessary for issues such as protection of the product and consumer acceptance.”

Sainsbury’s are “very surprised” by the claim, as since February the packaging on the Ultimate Slow Matured joint has been reduced by 53%, and will be reduced another 10% by December.

A spokesperson for the supermarket said: “We are surprised at the comments made by Lincolnshire County Council, which do not reflect the very positive outcome of our meeting with Lincolnshire’s packaging team.

“In fact, we have been informed that the council, in light of that meeting, is currently looking again at whether it will proceed.”

Already, customers buying the beef will see that the original packaging (pictured) has been replaced with a slimmer version.

The case against Sainsbury’s has been dated for October.

Related Reports: Lincolnshire Echo, The Independent, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror | Photos: Small World