Waitrose aims to save 134m plastic bags

10 January 2019

Waitrose is asking customers to use reusable containers as part of efforts to cut plastic bag use by 134m a year.

Under the retailer’s packaging and plastic reduction strategy for 2019 customers are encouraged to use their own containers to take home their fresh meat and fish, with signs appearing in stores. 

As part of the strategy the retailer will be removing all 5p single-use carrier bags from stores by March 2019, as well as replacing loose fruit and vegetable bags with a home compostable alternative by spring. It is estimated the measures will save 134m bags each year, the equivalent of 500 tonnes of plastic.

Tor Harris, head of CSR, health and agriculture at Waitrose & Partners, said while the long-term goal is to remove plastic bags entirely from fresh produce counters, food safety considerations when handling raw meat or fish means that finding a viable alternative to plastic isn’t going to happen overnight.

Harris continued: "The signs, as well as the conversations our partners are being encouraged to have with customers, are designed to help us work with our customers to start making a difference as soon as possible.”

Last year the retailer removed all disposable cups from its stores in response to consumer demand for environmental changes, asking loyalty scheme members to instead use their own recyclable cups to claim their free tea or coffee. As one of the largest buyers of coffee cups, the company had previously been procuring 52m paper cups each year.

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