The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Bagging A Plastic Reduction And The Elimination Of Packaging

On a tray - Waitrose are cutting hard to recycle black plastic out of the packaging mix while all supermarkets are selling fewer single-use plastic bags.
01 August 2019

Sales of plastic bags by the seven biggest retailers in England have fallen by 90% and one retailer is changing and eliminating packaging. So how are attitudes towards single-use plastic changing in the workplace?

Asda, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, The Co-operative Group, Tesco and Waitrose sold 490 million fewer single-use plastic bags in 2018/19 (549 million) – a drop of almost half on the previous year.

The average person in England now buys just 10 bags a year from the main supermarket retailers, compared with 140 bags in 2014 before the charge was introduced.

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: "No one wants to see the devastating impact plastic waste is having on our precious wildlife. These figures are a powerful demonstration that we are collectively calling time on being a throwaway society.


1.11 billion

The total single-use carrier bag sales reported by all large retailers in 2018/2019 fell 37% to 1.11 billion compared with the previous year.


Plastic packaging tax

The Government is also set to introduce a tax on plastic packaging that does not meet a minimum threshold of at least 30% recycled content from April 2022.


Coloured packaging

Waitrose & Partners are launching coloured packaging made from recycled plastic for its ready meals. The new trays, made predominantly from mixed coloured PET bottles and trays, means the packaging may be a different colour every time it is produced, depending on what is being recycled.

From pink and red tones, to shades of green and blue, the new packaging is unlikely to be the same twice, meaning customers could buy their ready meal in a different colour tray every time they shop. 

The 'multi coloured swap' allows Waitrose to ensure that its trays are more widely recyclable while  it continues to replace single use plastic. The retailer recently launched the world’s first home compostable packaging for its Italian ready meals replacing black plastic with a fibre-based tray.

 This packaging innovation, produced for Waitrose by Faerch, will see even more ready meals taken out of hard-to-recycle black plastic, saving a further 500 tonnes of black plastic going to landfill.

The majority of black plastic packaging is coloured using carbon black pigments which do not enable the pack to be easily sorted by the systems widely used in plastics recycling. As a result, black plastic packaging can commonly end up as residue and disposed of in landfill.

Karen Graley, Packaging Manager at Waitrose said: "We are determined to make all our own-brand packaging widely recycled, reusable or home compostable. We will have identified solutions for all our packaging by 2020 and will meet our target by 2023."



Waitrose Botley Road, Oxford has taken hundreds of products out of their packaging as part of the ‘Waitrose Unpacked’ test designed to help determine how customers might be prepared to shop differently in the future. A dedicated refillable zone for everything from wine to beer and cereals to coffees as well as cleaning products, the UK's first supermarket frozen ‘pick and mix’ and first borrow-a-box scheme, are among the concepts that were looked at. Waitrose also have the largest number of loose fruit and vegetable lines of any national supermarket and has removed plastic wrap from its flowers and indoor plants.

The test was due to run until August 18 but has been so successful that it will now be extended to the Wallingford, Abingdon and Cheltenham branches.

Picture: On a tray - Waitrose are cutting hard to recycle black plastic out of the packaging mix while all supermarkets are selling fewer single-use plastic bags.


So if a 5p charge on single-use plastic bags hugely reduces demand; irregular food packaging (because it comes from recycled stock) is more than acceptable; and there is an eagerness to buy goods with no packaging; have we arrived a point where consumers will look more and more at what happens in the workplace? Will they expect the staff canteen to eliminate single-use cups and cutlery? And will they expect no plastic bottles and perhaps chilled sandwiches to come in recyclable containers (those cardboard packs with the plastic window are 'recyclable' but the UK doesn't have a plant that actually does it)?


And will you be looking around your place of work and thinking harder about whether those laser printer cartridges are actually being recycled and whether there are other consumables that come in packs that could be bought not in packs if the will were there?


Do you agree with Biffa that confusion over what is recyclable and what can actually be recycled (instead of being exported to be dumped on an Asian beach) should be made clear?

To read the ThisWeekinFM article - Click Here


Will you think about insisting your cleaning contractor finds a cleaning product dosing system rather than providing single-use spray bottles?

What else will you do to eliminate single-use plastics in the workplace because there has been a sea-change in attitudes?


Article written by Brian Shillibeer | Published 01 August 2019


Related Articles

Climbing On The Bandwagon - Wellness Is Big Business

Wellbeing in small business initiatives are to be recognised with a new award as research from the ULI says that the wave of interest in wellbeing in the UK will...

 Read Full Article
Michael Gove Refuses Planning Permission to Demolish M&S Oxford Street Store

Plans to demolish and rebuild M&S’ flagship Oxford Street store have been refused by the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, Michael...

 Read Full Article
Wates Wins M&S Fit-Out Contracts

Building and property maintenance company Wates is to deliver three large-scale fit-out contracts on behalf of Marks and Spencer. Wates will work across three stores...

 Read Full Article
Flexible Office Space to be Trialled in Tesco Supermarkets

IWG, whose brands include Regus and Basepoint, is to pilot flexible office space within a Tesco supermarket in New Malden. Excess retail space at the South London...

 Read Full Article
Tesco Invests in Risk Management Technology for a Safer Workplace

Tesco is to centralise its workplace risks and hazards data to create a safer workplace for its staff. The global retailer has joined forces with Alcumus to...

 Read Full Article
Asda Trials IoT Sensor Technology

Asda has launched an innovative project at its Stevenage tech store as part of a series of trials in partnership with Hark and SeeChange. The project includes the use...

 Read Full Article
Tesco Establishes £2.5 Billion Credit Facility Tied to Sustainability Targets

Tesco Supermarket has announced the creation of a £2.5 billion revolving credit facility, with interest rates based on environmental performance...

 Read Full Article
Tesco Axes Contract Cleaners in Almost 2,000 Stores

From August 2020, existing Tesco Express and Metro store staff will be responsible for certain cleaning duties. Employees in the retailer's smaller...

 Read Full Article
Mace To Be Net Zero Carbon In 2020

Mace, the international construction and consultancy company, has announced that it will achieve net zero carbon emissions in 2020. This news comes as Sky targets...

 Read Full Article
Plastic Is Just The Tip Of The ‘Single Use’ Iceberg

Acting on plastic pollution, companies are on the verge of swapping to other materials with potentially greater environmental consequences, including higher carbon...

 Read Full Article