Waitrose & Partners, the sixth-largest grocery retailer in the UK, has pledged to reduce its plastic waste. The employee-owned company will replace single-use plastic bags and loose produce bags with corn-starch based bags which consumers can compost at home.
In 2015, the British government imposed a five pence fee on single-use grocery bags to encourage consumers to bring their own reusable bags instead. According to the government, since the five pence fee, the number of bags used in England has decreased by more than 80 percent, and a study found that as a result, plastic pollution in nearby oceans had declined by 30 percent. But even so, over one billion single-use plastic bags were used in England from 2017 to 2018.
Waitrose & Partners expects its move to compostables to cut the waste of over 100 million plastic bags across its 348 stores. The company has also begun to phase out reusable coffee cups. Customers will still be able to order coffee in the shops but they’ll need to drink them from reusable vessels. Waitrose & Partners expects to eliminate around 52 million disposable coffee cups this way.
Plastic waste pollution has been shown to cause massive destruction to wildlife habitats, especially that of seabirds and marine animals. Matthew Savoca, a marine biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, recently told National Geographic, “Single-use plastics are the worst. Period. Bar none.”
As evidence of the destruction caused by plastic waste mounts, consumers are opting for more environmentally friendly ways to shop. A study published earlier this year found that reducing plastic waste has become UK shoppers’ number one concern, even beating out price. Retailers have been responding by cutting back on plastic packaging and single-use plastics.
Starbucks and the Walt Disney Company are among several businesses that have pledged to phase out plastic straws in the next few years. Dunkin Donuts will eliminate polystyrene foam cups from its stores by 2020. And Kroger, which currently uses around 5 billion single-use plastic bags each year, plans to eliminate them by 2025.
A number of countries around the world including Kenya, China, and Australia, as well as smaller municipalities like California, have already banned single-use plastic grocery bags.
Become a CLUBKINDLY member today!