Sustainable packaging can help make a big difference to cut food waste, but now one major UK supermarket has gone one step further with their smart labelling. Around two million tonnes of food is thrown away from households as food goes past its sell-by date. So in a bid to “waste less and save more” Sainsbury’s are launching the novel labels on packets of its own branded ham to reduce waste and inform customers about how fresh it is. The temperature sensitive label changes from yellow to purple dependent on the length of time it has been open for. Ham has its longest fridge life when kept below 5C so the colour change will be slower in cooler fridges. As Sainsbury’s top-selling cooked meat, 1.9 million slices of ham are thrown away everyday. This is equivalent to 32,500kg and £170 million a year according to the government’s waste advisory body ‘Wrap’.
"Very few people make sure that their fridge is running at below 5C which means they could add an average of three days to a product’s life."
Jane Skelton, head of packaging at Sainsbury’s, ( @sainsburys ) said: “We’ve all been there; when we’ve found a pack of ham loitering on the bottom shelf of the fridge and can’t remember how long it’s been opened for. “We wanted to find a way to reduce waste of this family favourite while helping customers save money.”
This initiative is part of a five year investment plan that will see the supermarket dedicate £10 million to help UK households cut the amount of food they throw away. Official statistics reveal that the average British family gets rid of £700 of food every year. Sainsbury’s believe that many households wasted ham because they simply didn’t know how long it had been left in the fridge.
Very few people make sure that their fridge is running at below 5C which means they could add an average of three days to a product’s life. With regards to ‘sell by’ dates, these are aimed at the supermarkets rather than the consumer.
This label is one of many new technological initiatives being introduced including: mobile apps, scales to calculate the financial cost of food waste, smart fridges and cameras in the hope to alter consumer buying habits and control domestic food waste.
Sainsbury’s are currently trialling the smart labelling which was created by Solveiga Pakštaitė, an industrial design and technology graduate from Brunel University who has been awarded the prestigious James Dyson prize for the UK invention and had since been provided with further funding.
If trials are successful then this packaging will also be used across 300 product lines including cheese and nuts. In May, Sainsbury’s admitted it had fallen short of its targets to halve food waste but said they were “looking forward to the next stage of the journey.”