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Whole Foods Rolls New Sustainable Packaging Guidelines

Whole Foods Market has rolled out new responsible packaging guidelines to all of its more than 2,100 body care and supplement suppliers companywide. All new body care and supplement suppliers must meet the packaging guidelines before their products can be sold in one of the company’s more than 300 locations in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

To spearhead the change, the supermarket chain has switched to 100 percent post-consumer recycled (PCR) content bottles for several of its store-brand supplements and 365 brand body care items are packaged in bottles with 50 percent PCR content HDPE (high-density polyethylene).

A recent study from Global Industry Analysts projects that the global market for sustainable packaging will reach $142.42 billion by 2015.

Whole Foods has been working with 25 of its largest personal care product suppliers on the new guidelines since 2008, which went into effect on September 1, 2009. Suppliers were given one year to transition to more eco-friendly packaging.

The guidelines mandate that suppliers reduce the use of plastic in product packaging, encourage the switch to glass when possible, limit acceptable packaging materials to those that are easily reused or recycled, and/or feature the highest percentage of PCR content.

While the switch to PCR bottles began last September, the company expects to switch all of its house-brand Whole Body products, which now use amber plastic PET No. 1 bottles, to PCR packaging by late 2010. The new bottles bear a leaf symbol indicating that they are made from 100 percent PCR plastic.

Whole Foods also is supporting food suppliers that offer compostable packaging. The supermarket chain now offers Boulder Canyon Natural Food’s All Natural Kettle Cooked Potato Chip line that come in compostable packaging made from wood pulp at select stores.

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2 thoughts on “Whole Foods Rolls New Sustainable Packaging Guidelines

  1. Whole Foods is being unrealistic. Glass uses much more energy to produce than plastic; also much more energy to ship, both empty and filled with product, and heated to recycle. It is an environmentally poor choice for packaging. As for compostability of paper packaging, there is very little infrastructure in this country doing composting to properly compost compostable solid waste, so such waste ends up in landfills. Neither degradation nor composting occurs in landfills -they are engineered to be air and moisture free tombs so they can be usable land at the end of their landfill life. Until we are able to properly and economically recycle and compost our trash, we are stuck with landfills, and plastic is probably the best material to use for packaging, having the lowest weight and lowest user of energy of any packaging material since the material is going to be tossed into a landfill. Why use heavy weight glass which consumes a lot of energy and toss it into a landfill when light weight plastic consuming much less energy will do? Ditto for paper. It will not decompose in a landfill, and there are very few commercially operating composting facilities to take advantage of paper’s degradability properties.

  2. GREAT news! One more reason to love Whole Foods. All the evidence is clear — cradle-to-cradle, glass has a substantially lower carbon footprint than plastic. Transportation shouldn’t even be part of the conversation anymore. Shipping only represents about five percent of the complete carbon footprint of a glass bottle. And, unlike PET, glass is 100-percent recyclable.

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