British supermarket chain Waitrose is redesigning the packaging for its own Essential product range, which is relaunching this month. The company says that these changes should save many metric tons of plastic, glass, and other materials annually.
Waitrose’s Essential store brand includes more than 200 products across categories such as pantry, bakery, personal care, beauty, frozen food, and dairy. During the line’s relaunch, Waitrose says that they’re checking to make sure the products in the range meet the retailer’s goal of making sure all its own-brand packaging is widely recyclable, reusable or compostable at home by 2023.
“For Essential Waitrose, we set ourselves the target of reducing packaging, including single use plastic by 15%, which we are on track to do by September 2020,” said packaging manager Karen Graley.
According to the retailer, packaging changes in the Essential range include:
- Moving from glass jars to steel cans for Essential olives, saving 92 metric tons of glass packaging a year.
- Removing zip seals from all Essential dried fruit bags saved 2 metric tons of plastic a year.
- Switching the Essential chilled breads packaging material to save nearly 1.5 metric tons annually.
- Removing the plastic dust guard from the opening of Essential tissue boxes saved just over 2.75 metric tons of plastic a year.
- Switching to improved, fully-recyclable bags for the whole Essential frozen fruit range, saving nearly 1 metric ton every year.
The supermarket chain says that reducing Essential packaging by 15% would save nearly 2,000 metric tons. In addition to reducing packaging materials, the company has made progress in transitioning to recyclable plastic for its own-brand products. Last year, 70% of that plastic packaging was widely recyclable, and this year it’s expected to reach 80%, with 100% by 2023.
Previously Waitrose introduced packaging made from recycled cardboard pulp and dried tomato leaves. “Both John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners tackle the problem of plastic packaging in different ways, focusing on the areas they have the most influence over,” the retailer’s owners reported in 2019. “Our customers and partners have made it clear we must take all the measures we can.”