Waitrose takes aim at Black plastic in large chunk of its range | Valdamark

Waitrose has hit its target to remove black plastic from hundreds of products as part of its overall aim to eradicate black plastic from all its own-label products.

Waitrose

Waitrose is taking aim at its ‘hard to recycle’ black plastic packaging.

This sort of packaging applies to its meat, fish, poultry & fruit/veg products. The company forecasts it could reduce black plastic packaging usage by 1,300 tonnes per annum.

This type of packaging is produced containing a black pigment color additive which means the product cannot be easily categorised by the sorting systems used in plastic recycling depots.

This means more often than not black plastic ends up in a landfill site.

The goal for Waitrose is to reduce their consumption of plastic packaging without effecting quality or decreasing shelf life.

Shortened shelf life could potentially be a problem as this results in food waste. A epidemic just as bad as single use plastics.

Waitrose has done a pretty good job with recycling in general.

Since 2009 the store chain has decreased its own packaging materials use by 50%.

A further 70% of the plastic in their own brand packaging is recyclable.

Loose buy fruit & vegs bags are being phased out for compostable eco packaging bags

Single use carrier bags which already cost 5p will be phased out and replaced by the end of the year.

Embrace the Three Rs

This innovative approach to shopping minimises packaging waste. In this eco-conscious shopping experience, customers are empowered to bring their containers, bottles, and bags. With their containers, they can then fill with a wide array of grocery items. Waitrose Unpacked leads sustainable and plastic-reducing shopping practices.

The inspiration can be traced back to 2017. It debuted in Sir David Attenborough's acclaimed television series, Blue Planet II. So, Waitrose took the bold step of introducing this eco-friendly shopping style. This move is part of its ongoing commitment to combat waste. It aims to minimise unnecessary plastic usage. Plus, it supports customers in making sustainable choices.

The pioneering journey began with a successful trial in June 2019 at the Botley Road store in Oxford. The positive response from environmentally conscious shoppers led to its expansion into other locations. These locations include Cheltenham, Abingdon, and Wallingford. As the enthusiasm and demand grow, Waitrose aspires to extend the Unpacked experience to more of its stores. It aims to make it available both physically and online. This would give shoppers more access to sustainability.

Steps Towards a Plastic-Free Future

In 2018, Waitrose embarked on a mission. This is to eliminate disposable coffee cups from their stores. As a result, the store's 52 million cups didn't end up in landfills in that year alone. Furthermore, it banned single-use plastic straws. Years later, the store completely phased them out. Also, they transitioned from plastic stem cotton buds to an eco-friendly paper alternative. In 2016, Waitrose became the very first supermarket to ban the sale of products containing microbeads.

Additionally, they've incorporated plastic sourced from the Prevented Ocean Plastic program into some of our packaging since 2020. This forward-thinking initiative has saved an estimated 100 tonnes of plastic from finding its way into the ocean.

Waitrose removed its plastic packaging from its products such as baked beans, sweetcorn, and tinned tomatoes. This simple task created a ripple in the plastic packaging industry. It reduced by 18 tonnes.

Their innovative approach was showcased in 2021. This is the time when the supermarket reduced plastic usage in their British strawberry packaging by 17 tonnes. This reduction was possible through the introduction of a lightweight punnet. The punnet is made from 80% recycled material.

Waitrose adopted coloured trays. These trays are recycled from polyethylene terephthalate bottles. The vibrant hues of pink, red, green, and blue signify the various materials used. To make it possible, the supermarket collaborated with Faerch UK. As a result, it prevented a staggering 500 tonnes of plastic from ending up in landfills.

The Unpacked initiative has been instrumental in reshaping how customers approach shopping. This innovative program promotes the use of refillable options. It is a winner in a sustainable approach to groceries.
In 2023, Waitrose announced that 100% of their own-brand Easter egg and confectionery packaging is recyclable. Thus, they achieved a remarkable 3.25-tonne (19.68%) reduction in overall Easter packaging weight.

Notably, the store earned Fine to Flush certification for its Moist Toilet Tissue Wipes. This means consumers can flush the plastic-free wipes. This 'flush-ability' is possible through the collaboration with Water UK. The company guarantees that the tissue breaks down quickly.

Lastly, Waitrose supports the Global Ghost Gear initiative. This initiative aims to protect marine life and minimises plastic pollution originating from abandoned fishing equipment. Their active participation underscores their unwavering commitment to environmental sustainability.

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