The company claims it has already cut the amount by 30 per cent, and believes it can reduce the level of packaging still further. The move is a bold challenge to the confectionery industry's traditional approach to packaging, where Easter Eggs can often be wrapped in boxes up to three times the size of the egg.
"Our customers have asked for less packaging to reduce waste," said Sainsbury's recycling and resources manager James McKechnie. "We've responded by designing this year's range with 30 per cent less packaging, saving nearly a tonne of packaging waste.
"Although the boxes are smaller we're experiencing our best sales ever on own label Easter eggs - exploding the myth that the bigger the box, the bigger the sales. Food packaging can contribute up to a quarter of all household waste, and so finding ways to reduce this amount could make a substantial contribution to our environment."
The supermarket's move comes as customers are preparing to buy millions of chocolate Easter Eggs for relatives and children. In addition, Easter gifts will be sold in re-usable packaging such as Easter Egg Hunt Kits - sold in a solid lidded tidy box, Easter Eggspress - mini eggs tucked into the body of a plastic toy train or Sequin Butterfly Purses filled with small chocolate eggs.
Criticism over the amount of empty space in Easter egg boxes is one of the most common customer complaints, says the supermarket and it has decided to set an example to the rest of the industry. Sainsbury's commissioned its in-house design team to develop packaging which uses much less material but still protects the large, fragile, hollow, chocolate egg effectively.
Sainsbury's is also making moves to reduce packaging on ready meals and extend the range of compostable packaging it already uses on its organic range. The supermarket has already been successful in leading the industry to cut waste by using smaller cereal boxes more closely fitting the contents inside - breaking the industry wide view that bigger boxes were vital for greater sales.
The food indsutry is under graet pressure now to reduce packaging waste. The European Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive covers all packaging placed on the market in the Community and all packaging waste, and sets tough targets that must be achieved.
For example, 60 per cent as a minimum by weight of packaging waste must be recovered or incinerated at waste incineration plants with energy recovery and between 55 and 80 per cent by weight of packaging waste must be recycled no later than 31 December 2008.