Waitrose & Partners has announced that it has committed to removing loose fruit and vegetable plastic bags by spring 2019 and 5p single use plastic carrier bags by March next year in all shops. The move will save 134 million plastic bags, the equivalent of 500 tonnes of plastic a year.
The retailer will become the first nationwide supermarket to remove the fruit and vegetable plastic bags and introduce a home compostable alternative. This will be trialled first in a small number of shops at a date to be confirmed before being entirely replaced in all shops by spring next year.
The home compostable bags will look and feel similar to the current plastic ones, apart from printed text saying they are home compostable. The material will break down in landfill if put in a normal bin and the bags can be placed in food waste caddies or home composted.
“We know we still have a lot to do, but as with our commitment to removing takeaway disposable cups earlier this year, this represents another major step forward in reducing our use of plastics.”
Waitrose & Partners will initially remove 5p bags from six shops from 8th October to understand how to manage the changeover as smoothly as possible for customers before beginning a phased programme later in the year ahead of their complete removal in March 2019. Customers will be informed before the change comes into effect in their local shop.
Removing the bags from sale further underlines the supermarket’s commitment to reducing its impact on the environment and its use of plastics and packaging. It has pledged not to sell any own label food in black plastic beyond 2019 – an earlier date than any other supermarket – and to make all own-label packaging widely recyclable (using the widely recycled logo), reusable, or home compostable by 2025.
Earlier this year, the retailer announced that it would be removing all takeaway disposable coffee cups from its shops by autumn 2018, which it is on target to achieve with cups now removed completely from more than 300 of its 348 shops.
Tor Harris, Head of CSR, Health & Agriculture for Waitrose, says: “The removal of these bags will change the way our customers, many of whom have been asking us to do this, shop with us in the future. We know we still have a lot to do, but as with our commitment to removing takeaway disposable cups earlier this year, this represents another major step forward in reducing our use of plastics.”