STORE SPACES

Whole Foods in new move to reduce plastics across its stores

BY Marianne Wilson

Plastic straws will soon be a thing of the past at Whole Foods Market.

The company announced that it will eliminate plastic straws from its stores in the U.S., the U.K. and Canada by July 2019, becoming the first national grocer to make the change. In addition, Whole Foods said it switched to smaller plastic bags in its produce department this year and is replacing hard plastic rotisserie chicken containers with new bags that use approximately 70% less plastic. Together, these packaging changes will reduce an estimated 800,000 pounds of plastic per year.

By July 2019, Whole Foods will remove plastic straws from all company-operated venues, including Allegro coffee bars, juice bars and cafes. As a replacement for plastic straws, it will offer customers paper straws that are Forest Stewardship Council-certified, recyclable and compostable. (The company will offer a plastic straw option for customers with disabilities.)

“For almost 40 years, caring for the environment has been central to our mission and how we operate,” said A.C. Gallo, president and chief merchandising officer at Whole Foods Market. “We recognize that single-use plastics are a concern for many of our customers, team members and suppliers, and we’re proud of these packaging changes, which will eliminate an estimated 800,000 pounds of plastics annually. We will continue to look for additional opportunities to further reduce plastic across our stores.”

The new round of plastic reduction efforts build on Whole Foods’ legacy of reducing plastic in its stores, including:

• In 2008, Whole Foods became the first U.S. grocer to eliminate disposable plastic grocery bags at the checkouts of all its stores.

• Whole Foods recently eliminated all polystyrene/Styrofoam meat trays in all stores in the U.S. and Canada.

• Whole Foods also provides customers with environmentally responsible food containers for items from its prepared foods department, including salad boxes made of 100 percent commercially compostable material.

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