Waitrose to remove loose fruit and veg bags and 5p single use carriers

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 15 September 2018

Waitrose & Partners has said it will remove loose fruit and vegetable plastic bags by spring 2019 and 5p single use plastic carrier bags by March next year in all shops.

Plastic bags
© Stuart Askew

This move by Waitrose further highlights how several supermarkets are starting to listen to customers and campaigners

Dr Chris Tuckett,
MCS Director of Programmes

The supermarket says the move will save 134 million plastic bags, the equivalent of 500 tonnes of plastic a year.

The retailer made the announcement in the same week that Iceland said it was introducing plastic-free packaging for its pre-packed bananas. They’ll be held together by a paper band which the frozen food specialist claims is 100% recyclable. Iceland say it will save 10 million plastic bags a year.

Waitrose says it’s the first nationwide supermarket to remove the fruit and vegetable plastic bags and introduce, what they say is, a home compostable alternative. This will be trialled first in a small number of shops at a date to be confirmed before being rolled out in all shops by spring next year.

Tor Harris, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Health and 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.”

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.

Dr Chris Tuckett, MCS Head of Programmes, says it’s a good result for our oceans.”This move by Waitrose further highlights how several supermarkets are starting to listen to customers and campaigners, and while there is always room to do more when it comes to unnecessary plastic packaging, this is a welcome move.”

Waitrose say bags for loose fruit and veg will be replaced by a ‘home compostable alternative’, derived from corn starch, which ‘will break down in landfill if put in a normal bin and the bags can be placed in food waste caddies or home composted.’

However, speaking earlier this year, the UN’s top environmental scientist, Jacqueline McGlade, said that biodegradable plastic bags were a false solution.

The MCS Great British Beach Clean which is taking place nationwide this weekend (14th-17th September) is being sponsored by Waitrose for the second year in a row – cash from their carrier bag sales in England goes towards supporting MCS’ year-round beach clean programme.

Actions you can take

  1. Visit the beachwatch website
  2. Organise a beach clean
  3. Join a beach clean
  4. Download the Great British Beach Clean Report 2017

Did you know?…

Since the carrier bag charge came in across the UK, the Great British Beach Clean has recorded 40% fewer bags on beaches

To date, our beach cleans have removed 6 million pieces of litter

Around 40% of UK beach litter can be directly sourced to the public

Why not join a beach clean ... or organise one?

To date, our beach clean volunteers have removed 6 million pieces of litter from our beaches and collected marine litter data to support our campaigns for cleaner seas and beaches.

Learn more and join a beach clean