British supermarket chain Waitrose & Partners will remove plastic bags for loose fruit and vegetables and 5p single-use plastic carrier bags from all stores by March next year. The move will save 134 million plastic bags, the equivalent of 500 tonnes of plastic a year.
The retailer will become the first nationwide supermarket to remove fruit and veg plastic bags and introduce a home compostable alternative.
The new bags will look and feel similar to the current ones but will break down when disposed of or alternatively can be home composted. The bags will be trialed in a small number of shops first before replacing plastic bags in all shops by spring next year.
The 5p bags will be removed from six shops first from October 8 to understand how best to manage the changeover for customers. Customers will be informed before the change comes into effect in their local shop.
The supermarket giant has pledged not to sell any own-label food in black plastic beyond 2019 and to make all own-label packaging widely recyclable or home compostable by 2025.
Earlier this year, the retailer announced that it would be removing all takeaway disposable coffee cups from its shops by autumn 2018, which it is on target to achieve with cups now removed completely from more than 300 of its 348 shops.
Head of CSR, health and agriculture for Waitrose, Tor Harris, 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.”