Waitrose ditches plastic shrinkwrap for can multipacks

Waitrose & Partners has calculated that the switch will mitigate the use of 18 tonnes of plastics annually. Image: Waitrose & Partners

The supermarket has taken the plastic, which is not collected by most UK local authorities for domestic kerbside recycling, off of its ‘essential Waitrose’ lines of baked beans, sweetcorn, plum tomatoes and chopped tomatoes in juice. 

Customers will be able to buy the individual cans loose, with the multipack discount applying if they buy the same amount of loose tins previously wrapped in a multipack.

Waitrose & Partners said it chose these four lines as these are its “best-selling staples” and has calculated that the switch will mitigate the use of 18 tonnes of plastics annually.

If consumer feedback to the move is positive, the supermarket has vowed to remove shrinkwrap from other own-brand canned lines.

“We know shoppers like the convenience of buying a few cans at a time as store cupboard essentials but we want to remove single-use plastic wherever we can,” Waitrose & Partners’ packaging manager Karen Graley said.

“By selling the cans loose but at multibuy prices, we’ll be able to pass the cost saving on to customers – without passing on the plastic.”

The move comes as part of Waitrose & Partners’ commitment to ensuring all of its packaging is widely recycled, reusable or home-compostable – an ambition it claims it is on-track to meet by 2023. The supermarket is also working to phase out “unnecessary” plastics and, following the removal of single-use plastic straws, cotton buds and coffee cups from its offering, recently extended its ‘Unpacked’ refill format, whereby customers can choose from more than 200 packaging-free grocery lines

Sweet talk

In related packaging news, confectionery giant Ferrero Group has this week joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, which commits the firm to making its packaging 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

The Commitment aims to create a “new normal” for plastic packaging and has been backed by more than 300 big-name businesses, covering all parts of the plastics value chain, as well as national Governments and investors.

Fererro Group’s decision to sign the Commitment comes after the packaging for its namesake chocolates was found to be among the least recyclable on the UK market in a study by consumer group Which?.  As of Christmas 2018, 89% of the packaging, by weight, used to house 359g Ferrero Rocher Collection boxes was not considered recyclable at kerbside.

At the time, Ferrero Group said the packaging was “of fundamental importance to protect our chocolates from damage during transport, in the shops and at home” and to “maintain the freshness and quality that is the hallmark of Ferrero products”

Now, the firm says it will invest more in its R&D and Open Innovation departments to create alternative packaging with no “unnecessary” plastic components. While recyclability will be the short-term focus, Ferrero Group has said its longer-term exploration will focus on marine compostable solutions.

“Ferrero has always taken a responsible approach to delivering high-quality product experiences that positively contribute to both today and tomorrow’s society,” Ferrero Group’s executive chairman Giovanni Ferrero said. “This belief continues to drive us towards a responsible value chain by sourcing sustainably, producing sustainably and now by further strengthening our commitment to more sustainable packaging.”

Sarah George

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