Supermarket chain Asda has said the industry needs to put aside some of its "cut-throat" competitiveness and collaborate to drive sustainability.

"There's lot of stuff being done, but it is still too competitive," Asda Chief Operating Officer David Cheesewright said at the Reuters Consumer and Retail Summit in London.

"There is a huge opportunity for the sector to cooperate." Retailers have launched extensive "green" initiatives in the past year, but their self-imposed targets for recycling and sustainability have met with scepticism from some groups who say their goal is promotion and not a genuine attempt to help customers and the environment.

Tesco, where a third of Britons buy groceries, has pledged 500 million pounds to "green" initiatives while Marks & Spencer has a 200 million pounds carbon neutral plan. Asda, which is owned by Wal-Mart Stores, during the next year aims to cut the amount of packaging used on its own label food and non-food by 25 percent. It is part of Wal-Mart's $500 million (250 million pound) a year investment in green technology and research.

ASDA will become the first UK supermarket to exclusively stock a new range of environmentally friendly CDs - giving customers the option of buying more than 84,000 best selling classics in fully compostable packaging. The new 'Ecopac' range, which is manufactured by Universal Music and made from 100% recycled and recyclable paper-foam, will launch at all of ASDA's 336 stores this week, just 6 months after it debuted in the stores of parent company Wal-Mart - selling more than 2 million copies to date. The new packaging is available on 42 titles ranging from Marilyn Manson to Marvin Gaye and can be recycled along with newspapers and magazines or discarded with other household rubbish.

In addition, no booklets will be included in the packaging; instead, these will be available to customers directly from the Universal Music website. The move follows ASDA research which suggests that up to 25 per cent of all plastic music CD covers are thrown away within 12 months of purchase and, with festivals such as Glastonbury and Live Earth looming, the packaging will provide eco-conscious customers with a sustainable alternative.


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