Waitrose to ditch black plastic packaging from 2019

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 22 January 2018

Waitrose has pledged not to sell any of its own-label food in black plastic beyond 2019 which, the high street retailer says, is the earliest date any supermarket has committed to removing black plastic from its shelves.

© Waitrose

MCS has consistently called for a reduction in polymer types and the banning of black plastic and polystyrene.

Dr Sue Kinsey,
MCS Senior Pollution Policy Officer

Currently much of the black plastic used by supermarkets for food such as ready meals and puddings cannot be recycled as optical sorting systems widely used in plastics recycling cannot sense the colour effectively. This means they’re not identified for recycling and end up going to landfill.

Dr Sue Kinsey, the MCS Senior Pollution Policy Officer, says it’s another good step forward in the fight to reduce unnecessary packaging: “MCS has consistently called for a reduction in polymer types and the banning of black plastic and polystyrene. The move by Waitrose to not have their own-label products encased in something which is largely non-recyclable by the end of the year, now puts the pressure on other supermarkets to follow suit.”

MCS says that there are plenty of alternatives already available without trying to make black plastic easier to recycle, these include many easily recyclable plastics or pressed card.

Waitrose says it will stop using black plastic for meat, fish, fruit and vegetables by the end of this year and has already removed 65% of black plastic from its fruit and vegetable packaging.

Tor Harris, Head of Sustainability and Responsible Sourcing at Waitrose, says: “Tackling the use of plastics across our business is a key priority for us and we have committed that all our packaging will be widely recycled, reusable or home compostable by 2025. Our work to eliminate black plastic packaging from our shops sees us taking a step towards accomplishing this.

“Not many people realise that black plastic is tough to recycle. As a retailer dedicated to reducing the impact of plastic packaging on the environment, becoming black plastic free across all our own label products is the right thing to do.”

Waitrose’s carrier bag levy proceeds are currently supporting MCS by helping to fund beach and river cleans across England until the middle of this year.

Do you want to help stop the plastic tide? We are currently calling on UK governments to put a charge on single-use plastic throwaway items and demanding that big fast food chains stop giving out millions of plastic cups, stirrers, straws and cutlery but instead replace them with reusable or fully compostable alternatives.

Actions you can take

  1. Organise a beach clean
  2. Download the Great British Beach Clean Report 2019
  3. Visit the beachwatch website
  4. Join a beach clean
  5. Help us stop the plastic tide

Did you know?…

Plastic has been found in the stomachs of almost all marine species including fish, birds, whales, dolphins, seals and turtles

Over time, one plastic bottle bobbing along in the ocean can break down in to hundreds of tiny plastic pieces

Since the carrier bag charge came in across the UK, the Great British Beach Clean has recorded almost 50% fewer bags on beaches


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