This is great news and a great start and for this we must applaud Waitrose. They are trialling an 11 week project in Oxford to determine the call for it.
Of course, whilst this is a great idea, a couple of things are nagging at me:
- Why only 11 weeks over the summer holidays when people are likely to be away more? Ok, let’s add in the tourists who may use the store, but unless they are quite as nutty as me, not many will come on holiday with their own reusable containers on the off chance they can buy their goods loose. I’m not sure this will give them a true cross section. It also only demonstrates the shoppers who actually are prepared to pay John Lewis prices for their shopping. It’s also relying heavily on shoppers changing their habits for an 11 week trial rather than using plastic alternatives (see my third point below).
- Did you notice the part about the flowers and the title? “Waitrose takes hundreds of products out of packaging “?? What? How is that actually reducing waste? If you remove the plastic to sell loose, the plastic is still there in the environment, just the shopper doesn’t take it home with them!
- There are many alternatives for plastic these days. Waitrose now only have compostable bags for putting loose fruit and veg in at my local store, Abel and Cole supply their goods in compostable bags if they need to put into any form of plastic. I get some goods from Plastic Free Packaging and they use a form of plant starch for anything that needs to go in a bag stronger than paper. It is possible to actually make the shoppers’ life not much different and therefore reduce plastic AND keep your clientele happy.
I know I am being a sceptic and that if people are happy to buy their goods this way then Waitrose will be (hopefully) changing their arrangements with their suppliers and getting the goods supplied to them in plastic free alternatives. I am really happy that Waitrose are getting on board with the issue of climate change and sticking their heads above the parapet, of course, but I do feel that sometimes if you put your head above you need to be prepared to be hit with an arrow and I’m not convinced yet.
However, they ARE wanting as much feedback as possible, so if you want this spread out across the country, if you see huge flaws and how to fix them, if you want to congratulate them or rant about your feelings on unnecessary packaging, then speak up. firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them, message on FB or instagram (although the link seems to be broken at the moment). Speak to them, make your voice heard!