Waitrose & Partners commits to removing 134m plastic bags

Saturday 15 September 2018

Supermarket to remove loose fruit and vegetable bags and 5p single use bags

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.

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.”


For further information, please contact:

Waitrose & Partners

James Armstrong
Corporate Communications Manager
Tel: 01344 824657 / 07764 676 880
Email: james.armstrong@waitrose.co.uk

Notes to editors:

1)*The 5p single use plastic carrier bags will initially be removed from six shops (Saxmundham, Gerrards Cross, Keynsham, Dorking, Newark and East Putney) from 8th October.

2) Waitrose has committed to making all our own-label packaging widely recyclable (using the widely recycled logo), reusable, or home compostable by 2025 and have also been making small changes across its own brand range that add up to big reductions. Examples include:

  • It has pledged not to sell any own label food in black plastic beyond 2019 - this is the earliest date a supermarket has committed to removing black plastic from its shelves

  • Waitrose has already removed over 65 percent of black plastic from its fruit and vegetable packaging and will stop using black plastic packaging for meat, fish, fruit and vegetables by the end of 2018

  • Waitrose has reduced packaging by nearly 50 per cent since 2009

  • It has committed to removing all myWaitrose disposable cups from shops by autumn 2018, saving 52m cups a year

  • The retailer was the first supermarket to permanently stop selling products containing microbeads from September 2018.

  • It also switched plastic stem cotton buds to paper stem.

  • Waitrose Duchy tomatoes are in punnets made from tomato leaves and paper which replaced the plastic they were normally in.

  • In June 2018 the retailer trialled a ready meal tray made out of wood fibre which felt like cardboard.

  • Waitrose’s pea and lentil pasta are in boxes partly made from waste peas and lentils. This saves paper and energy

  • A number of the retailer’s egg boxes are made from rye grass and recycled paper, reducing the amount of paper needed

  • It has changed the packaging of a number of its products to reduce the plastic used e.g moving its steaks from a plastic tray to a flat vacuum pack, changing Waitrose Duchy Organic jumbo oats 1kg packaging from plastic to cardboard and significantly reducing plastic in its whole bird chicken packaging

About Waitrose & Partners

Waitrose & Partners has 352 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 65 convenience branches, and another 27 shops at Welcome Break locations. It combines the convenience of a supermarket with the expertise and service of a specialist shop - dedicated to offering quality food that has been responsibly sourced, combined with high standards of customer service. Waitrose & Partners is an employee-owned business - all employees are Partners and have a say in how the business is run.

Waitrose & Partners exports products to more than 50 countries worldwide and has nine shops which operate under licence in the Middle East. The retailer's omnichannel business includes the online grocery service, Waitrose.com, as well as specialist online shops including waitrosecellar.com for wine and waitroseflorist.com for plants and flowers.