UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has announced several measures to tackle plastic waste, including a pledge to end the use of difficult-to-recycle dark coloured plastics by March 2020.

The proposed measures are expected to help the company eliminate 1,160t of plastic packaging.

The retailer will also remove all plastic packaging from Christmas crackers, as well as sweetheart and savoy cabbages.

Other commitments include reducing the weight of the plastic used in ready meal trays and the thickness of clothing bags.

“Today’s announcements show what we have already achieved and demonstrate our firm commitments for the future to make significant reductions in plastic use.”

By the end of next year, Sainsbury’s aims to replace all fruit and vegetable packaging with recycled alternatives by the end of next year.

Sainsbury’s will switch all sparkling water bottles from green to clear by the end of this year, as well as 30% of all plastic packaging with recycled content ‘where possible’ by 2022.

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The retailer will also launch a ‘pre-cycle’ trial scheme that will allow customers to remove unwanted primary and secondary packaging in-store and leave it for recycling.

The move is aimed at ensuring the protection of food through the supply chain while offering customers the option to recycle packaging in-store.

Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe said: “We are serious about reducing plastic. For many years, Sainsbury’s has prioritised sustainability and sought innovative solutions to reduce plastic packaging and increase recycling.

“Today’s announcements show what we have already achieved and demonstrate our firm commitments for the future to make significant reductions in plastic use.”

As part of its commitment to fight plastic pollution, the retailer announced that customer recycling facilities will be made available at an additional 125 stores.

The chain is working in partnership with other organisations to develop new packaging and recycling technologies. In addition, it is also piloting deposit return schemes to enable customers to easily return recyclable packaging.

Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s has revealed that the failed bid to acquire rival Asda cost £46m last year.

The company’s sales during the fourth quarter fell 0.9% and annual pre-tax profits declined by 41.6% to £239m.