Waitrose to use home-compostable bags in produce aisles and phase-out 5p carrier bags

Waitrose & Partners has announced that it will stop offering single-use plastic bags in its fruit and vegetable aisles and remove 5p carrier bags from its stores, a move that will cut its plastic usage by 134 million bags each year.

The supermarket will replace its plastic produce bags with a home-compostable alternative, which will be trialled in a “small number” of stores ahead of a full roll-out by spring 2019.

Waitrose & Partners claims the alternative bags are 100% home compostable and suitable to be placed in either food waste caddies or regular bins.

Meanwhile, the company will begin phasing out its 5p carrier bags by removing them from six of its stores- Saxmundham, Gerrards Cross, Keynsham, Dorking, Newark and East Putney – next month. Waitrose & Partners anticipates that the bags will be removed from all stores, with customers offered 10p bags for life or reusable fabric alternatives instead, by March 2019.

Waitrose & Partners’ head of CSR for health and agriculture, Tor Harris, said the move was driven by consumer demand and would remove 134 million plastic bags from circulation annually.

“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,” Harris said. “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.”

The changes arrived after a survey of 5,000 consumers found that 80% would endorse a supermarket’s move to cut its plastic output, while 91% would be more likely to encourage friends and family to shop there as a result of such a pledge.

Supermarket sweep

The move to phase-out plastic bags forms part of Waitrose & Partners’ commitment to ensuring all its own-brand packaging is either recyclable, reusable or home compostable by 2025.

As it strives to meet this aim, the company has pledged to remove hard-to-recycle black plastic from all of its own-brand lines by 2019, and is set to have removed disposable coffee cups from all its in-store cafes by the end of this autumn.

Posting an update to the coffee cup phase-out on Saturday (15 September), the supermarket said it was on track to meet its deadline after completely removing single-use cups from 300 of its 348 cafes. Waitrose & Partners claims the move will save more than 52 million cups a year.

Elsewhere, Waitrose & Partners has also made a commitment to stop selling packs of single-use plastics straws and to replace all plastic straws used in its onsite cafes with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper alternatives.

Single-use plastics at Responsible Retail 2018

Solving the plastics problem is one of the key themes running throughout edie’s upcoming Responsible Retail 2018 conference, taking place on 20 September in London.

The full-day event has been designed for the retailers, sustainability professionals and key stakeholders that are looking for the information, insight and inspiration required to seize the sustainability opportunity.

Find out more about Responsible Retail 2018 and register to attend here.

Sarah George

Comments (2)

  1. Robert Pocius says:

    A commendable goal indeed. However there was no mention of what they consider "Compostable Material" or where it will be composted.
    Major Municipal Composters, (where most will end up), need the materials to completely decompose in 8 – 12 weeks. Virtually no materials can meet that time-line. I would like to know which materials they claim can do this and maintain enough strength to hold products.

  2. Sarah Marshall says:

    but these bags are still pretty much single use and not all councils offer industrial composting so there could be potential for plastic contamination..there is no evidence these degrade any faster in a marine environment..what we really need is reusable bags or the need no to use bags ..

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