Thursday, 19 April 2007

Sainsbury Try Something New

It's a new world. Shopping bags - reducing the impact thereof - are at the leading edge of creative marketing. And so they should be as we get through 10 billion of them a year in the UK.I read an article recently on how shopping bags are not only made in china but shipped back there from the UK for recycling. It's crazy, we need to change our habits.

Smart: Sainsbury reduced the plastic content of their distinctive new orange bag by 43%, it contains 33% recycled plastic and this proportion is being increased. Still not great for the environment they'd be the first to admit but better. They've also been offering those nice(r) 100% recycled reusable 'bags for life' for a long while.

Smarter: the Anya Hindmarch bag. You'll all know the story (we are what we do, london fashion week, Keirah Knightly, blah, blah) but you may not have known that you can get one of 20,000 of these from 8am on the 25th, store location details here on a first served basis. My guess is you will also be able to get one on eBay about an hour later. The original lot released were fetching anything from £40 to £175 - the organisers got quite upset about this, but actually isnt it just another part of the mystique/buzz marketing? The same happened with gmail invites.

Smartest: Okay yes you do have to love the Anya Hindmarch thing (its so Viridian - get a-list stars to flaunt something and eveyone loves it). But just for the sake of argument if you just took the objective as getting a large part of the population to reconsider and reduce their throwaway supermarket bag use I suspect this is even smarter: on 27th April there will no NO BAGS (ie none of the usual disposable ones) in any Sainsbury store. Instead they will be giving out around (they expect) 7 million of those 10p bags for life for free. "We want to make it as simple as possible for our millions of customers and thousands of colleagues to take action now" said their Customer Director, Gwyn Burr. I hope they keep it up, maybe do it once a month. there's nothing like habits being jolted. We turned off email for a week at St Luke's once and it was really interesting what it taught us about how we usually communicate. There's nothing like changing behaviour, to change your thinking. The Hindmarch bag is a big idea, but this is a big jolt. Oh yes and it does go rather well with their 'try something new today' campaign too.


Andrew Smart said...

Brilliant idea.

Here in Denmark there's a whole generation of shoppers (my wife's parents and all their old hippy friends) who only use the canvas type shopping bag. One of the reasons for this is that supermarkets actually charge for plastic bags, (around 20p) which is another incentive to stop using them!

anonandon said...

Speaking of supermarkets, here is tescos latest plan which maybe of interest (design week 19th APR):

Tesco pledges waste reduction in packaging within the next four years

Supermarket giant Tesco has become the latest retailer to pledge an ambitious reduction in packaging waste, with a commitment to trim volumes by a quarter before the end of 2010.

Working with roster design consultancies, the retailer is also to label products to show whether they can be reused, recycled or composted. This process should be completed by next year.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme has welcomed the group’s pledge, and says that although the targets are ambitious, it is the type of ‘challenging action that Wrap’s Courtauld Commitment was designed to achieve’, according to the organisation’s chief executive Dr Liz Goodwin.

Along with other major grocery retailers, Tesco was one of the original signatories to the Courtauld Commitment, agreeing to work with Wrap to achieve an overall reduction in packaging waste by 2010.

Roster consultancy Coley Porter Bell’s redesign last July of Tesco’s organic range, across 400 lines, already incorporated biodegradable materials.

Adam Ellis, design director at CPB, says, ‘I don’t believe any big idea will be diluted by a packaging mandate.

Tesco has revealed record profits of £2.5bn for the year ending 24 February, an increase of 13.2 per cent on the previous year.

• Tesco sales are up 11% to £46.6bn, with profits of £2.5bn

• The group has made long term commitments on community and environmental issues, including new initiatives on packaging, milk pricing, carbon labelling and regeneration

mixu said...

the sainsbury's thing - seemed like a nice idea. But on the odd day that I forgot my rather nifty foldable reusable Sainsbury's bags I used the new orange ones and quickly discovered they're not as tough as the previous ones, so I can't put as much into a single one. So for someone who likes to pack as much into as few bags as possible it's become a rather counter-productive initiative.

John Grant said...

Actually just charging for the bags (which they used to in uk too) would be ideal; forcing reuse as well as alternatives, just on economic grounds.

Talking of packaging, remember when the UK government advised people to give excessive packaging back to the shop on the spot?,,1948065,00.html

It seems only yesterday that the supermarkets were lagging behind on environmental concerns. They are now 'the good guys' for the time being. But between local shops movement, food miles, packaging waste and Monbiot saying universal delivery would be much greener anyway you have to wonder how long they will be in favour. The NGOs are quite ready to turn on anyone - no matter what the history of working together - its the cause not relationships that count. They use corporates as exemplars, and I wonder if corporates spot that 'in favour' is a very insecure position. Three years ago Oxfam & Starbucks were cooperating on a fair trade African coffee scheme. Now Starbucks is the target of an Oxfam campaign.

It's all quite Maoist. Dont get me wrong I think stuff like M&S PlanA is great. But it was only a month later that someone told me that their biodegradable packing was being made with GM corn, which was 'contaminating' the food. No-one is immune to criticism in other words. In fact being in a position of announcing you're the good guys makes arguably you more open to criticism and pressure.