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Packaging and recycling

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(Reducing) our packaging

Why is packaging important?

Packaging has a crucial role to play in reducing damaged products and preventing food waste. Each year, over 10 million tonnes of packaging is placed on the UK market. About half that amount goes to households, where it accounts for about 20% of the waste stream. The other half is used in the Commercial and Industrial sectors, where it accounts for about 10% of the waste stream. Source: WRAP

In addition to technical and commercial issues, there is clear regulation relating to packaging. If a business makes, fills, sells of handles packaging or packaging materials, then they must comply with packaging regulations.  Waitrose is a signatory of the Courtauld Commitment which was launched in July 2005 by the Government funded Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). By signing up to the Courtauld Commitment Waitrose has made a public commitment to support WRAP in delivering its waste prevention and resource optimisation objectives.

Over the past few years we have implemented a range of initiatives to use lightweight packaging, trial innovative packaging solutions and introduce more recycled and recyclable materials. One such initiative is the reduction of the thickness for all prepared salad and leaf plastic bags, which has been achieved without lowering quality or shortening the life of the product.

This enabled a 14.3% reduction in the weight of packaging used, as well as reducing the misting inside the bags and improved the quality of the seal. Smoked salmon packaging has also been reduced by 50%; the removal of paper labels on own-brand egg boxes is predicted to save 35 tonnes of packaging a year; and we have introduced wine bottles made from 60% recycled glass that deliver a 30% reduction in weight. The launch of essential Waitrose in 2009 saw the introduction of a number of lines with reduced packaging.

Plastic bags

Waitrose estimates that it gives away 257 million of the 12.4 billion free carrier bags handed out by UK retailers each year. Although a small percentage of the product packaging it handles each year, Waitrose is keen to reduce unnecessary bag use and was the first retailer to introduce a 'Bag for Life' in 1997. Sold to its customers for 10p, bags are replaced free of charge once worn out. All returned, worn out bags are recycled.

Despite the success of our Bags for Life, there are still many customers who use free disposable carrier bags. To encourage them to switch, we regularly run 'Bag for Life' promotions and awareness campaigns in our stores.

In December 2008, the UK Government, the British Retail Consortium and leading supermarkets agreed to a 50% cut in the number of single-use carrier bags given out to customers by spring 2009, measured against a 2006 baseline, in a bid to radically reduce the consumption of single-use carrier bags. Although collectively retailers gave away 420 million fewer single-use carrier bags in May 2009 than May 2006, a reduction of 48%, plastic bags are still a hot topic.

Through promoting our Bag for Life and other reusable bags, Partner training and prominent communications encouraging customers to reuse their existing bags, Waitrose reduced single-use carrier bag usage by 50% in May 2009 compared to May 2006. We remain committed to continuing to reduce their use and environmental impact.

Welsh carrier bags

In October 2011 the Welsh Assembly introduced legislation to dramatically reduce the number of single use carrier bags given away by retailers in Wales, and thereby:

  • Helping to tackle climate change.
  • Reducing litter.
  • Protecting wildlife.
  • Saving the natural resources that are used to make and distribute bags.
  • Encouraging people to reuse their bags.

The legislation requires retailers to charge a minimum of 5p for single use carrier bags.

More information on the legislation can be found at www.wales.gov.uk

The Welsh legislation fits well alongside our wider work to promote the use of reusable bags, encourage sustainability and cut down on waste and litter. This is all part of the Waitrose Way philosophy of 'Treading lightly', and includes:

  •  A large selection of reusable bags that can be purchased from our local stores.
  • The choice of bagless delivery for all online orders.
  • The facility for our drivers to take your used carrier bags away for recycling.

Waitrose Limited carrier bag record

For the period 7 April 2012 - 6 April 2013

Number of chargeable bags supplied

818165

Total amount received from the sale of the bags

£40,908.25

Total amount received from the 5p charge

£40,908.25

Net proceeds of the charge

£34,090.21

We donated the net proceeds equally to:

South East Wales Rivers Trust

£11363.41

The Brecon Beacons Trust

£11363.40

The Welsh Air Ambulance Charitable Trust

£11363.40

The difference of £6,818.04 between the total amount received from the sale of bags and the net proceeds of the 5p charge is made up of the following:

Amounts above 5p that customers paid for bags

£0.00

Costs incurred informing the public about the charge

Not deducted

Compliance costs

Not deducted

VAT

£6,818.04

We have not taken away any 'reasonable costs' from the net proceeds.

Shopping at Waitrose branches and petrol filling stations in Wales

If you do not have your own bags, you will be offered the choice of a Bag for Life that costs 10p or a single use carrier bag at 5p.

Shop in Branch, We Deliver

At the checkout you can choose to have your shopping delivered bagless, in your own carrier bags or you can purchase Waitrose carrier bags at the checkout.

  • If you choose bagless your delivery will arrive in crates and the driver will take away the crates once the shopping has been unpacked. If you provide your own bags at the checkout then Waitrose will deliver your shopping in these bags.
  • If you would like to purchase carrier bags at the checkout cashier will ask you how many bags you require. Waitrose will then charge 5p for each carrier bag requested.
  • If you would like to reuse your own bags, simply hand them to the cashier who will use them to pack your shopping.

Shop Online, We Deliver

You can choose to have your online order delivered bagless, or in carrier bags.

  • If you choose bagless, your delivery will arrive in crates, and once unpacked the driver will take away the crates.
  • If you choose to have your delivery in carrier bags, Waitrose will charge 5p for every £13.86 of shopping ordered*.

Shop Online, You Collect

You can choose to have your collection bagless, or in carrier bags.

  • If you choose to have a bagless collection, you will need to bring your own carrier bags to the branch. A Waitrose partner will then pack your order into your carrier bags.
  • If you choose to have your collection already prepared in carrier bags, Waitrose will charge 5p for every £13.86 of shopping ordered*.

* We have developed this charging calculation after conducting research on more than 10,000 Waitrose online orders. Our data shows that an average carrier bag in a Waitrose online order contains £13.86 of shopping and this is the assumption we use to inform us how much to charge for carrier bags for your online order.
(Example: If you order £100 of online shopping we know that typically this will require 7 carrier bags. We will, therefore, charge you 35p which is the equivalent of 7 bags at a cost of 5p each).

Recycling

Waitrose has recycled packaging materials such as cardboard and plastic from its shops and distribution centres for more than 20 years. As part of our legal packaging obligation, Waitrose spends almost £1 million a year to help recycle consumer packaging.

We also encourage customer recycling and our Waitrose shops offer recycling facilities for customers where feasible, the only limiting factors are space or local collection arrangements. As part of our commitment to encouraging customers to recycle, we provide recycling points for plastic carrier bags in Waitrose shops; our five Food & Home shops offer mobile phone recycling; and in 2010 we introduced battery recycling facilities in our shops.

Waitrose also supports websites Recycle Now and Recycle More (these links open in new windows) that enable consumers to identify their nearest recycling centre and, importantly, the types of materials that can be recycled.

Working with WRAP, the British Retail Consortium and other leading retailers, we developed a standard on-pack recycling labelling scheme for packaging, which was launched in 2008. The initiative replaces the previous range of recycling symbols and messages with a single Recycle Now logo and an icon to indicate the recyclability of the packaging.

essentials

Recycling electrical equipment

Electrical and Electronic Equipment is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the UK, increasing by at least 5% each year. The public dispose of more than 1.2 million tonnes of waste every year in the UK, and landfill sites are now reaching full capacity. Much of this waste can be recycled, and the resources recovered to make new consumer goods. The WEEE regulations aim to reduce the quantity of electrical and electronic items disposed of in this way, and will encourage everyone to play a part in protecting our environment for future generations.

From 1 July 2007, the UK’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations allow members of the public to deposit old electrical and electronic items at recycling sites across the UK, free of charge.

To find your nearest recycling sites for waste electrical and electronic products, contact your local council, or visit Recycle More and type your postcode into the recycling bank locator.

As retailers of electrical and electronic products, both John Lewis and Waitrose fully support this regulation, and we have joined together with some of the UK’s leading electrical retailers to create and fund a new body - the Distributor Take-Back (DTS) scheme - which is helping to develop a new UK recycling network for waste electrical products.

Over the next three years, the scheme will make more than £10 million available to establish and upgrade recycling facilities across the UK, so that customers can conveniently recycle old electrical appliances.

For the latest information on waste and recycling at Waitrose and John Lewis visit The John Lewis Partnership.

Since 5 May 2009, the UK's Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations require those who manufacture, import or produce one tonne of batteries or those who place products containing batteries onto the UK market to be responsible for the collection, treatment and recycling of the waste batteries. In the UK, we use 600 million batteries every year - an average of 21 per household. In 2007 just 3% of batteries were being recycled, the rest were going to landfill. The UK is aiming to meet targets of 25% recycling of batteries by 2012 and 45% by 2016.

Everything from AAA cells to mobile phone batteries and button cells used in hearing aids and watches, must be separated from household rubbish and placed into designated recycling bins in shops or other recycling points. Recycling facilities are available in all John Lewis and Waitrose stores.

Our buyers are also aware of how this legislation impacts the products they select, and all our own-brand products, which fall under the WEEE and batteries regulations are clearly identifiable with a crossed out wheelie-bin symbol. As a producer of electrical, electronic and battery-containing products, we are also members of producer compliance schemes that take responsibility for recycling batteries and waste electrical and electronic products.

FAQs

Q: Why should I recycle my old electrical and electronic products?
A: This is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the UK and our landfill sites are reaching full capacity. Much of this waste can be recycled and the resources recovered to make new consumer goods. The WEEE regulations aim to reduce the quantity of electrical and electronic items disposed of in this way, and will encourage everyone to play a part in protecting our environment for future generations.

Q: How can I recycle my old electrical and electronic products?
A: To find your nearest recycling sites for waste electrical and electronic products, contact your local council, or visit Recycle More and type your postcode into the recycling bank locator. You will also find advice and tips on the website about how to recycle waste electrical goods and other household items, making it quick and easy for you to recycle more.

Q: How will I know whether the new products I buy can be recycled?
A: All new electrical and electronic products sold now carry a ‘crossed out wheelie bin’ symbol to help you identify which products are recyclable. You do not have to have purchased new electrical and electronic equipment to be able to recycle your old equipment.

Q: Will John Lewis and Waitrose accept my old electrical and electronic items back in-store?
A: No, unfortunately John Lewis and Waitrose are unable to accept old appliances back in-store. We do not have a legal obligation to do so and will instead be contributing to the funding of an alternative network of recycling points. Contact your local council or use the website above to locate your nearest recycling bank for WEEE. Your local John Lewis or Waitrose store also has more information on the collection facilities available to you in your local area.

Q: Will John Lewis still offer a collection service for large electrical products?
A: John Lewis and Waitrose Food and Home will continue to offer collection services for large white electrical goods and some other large electricals. There will be a small charge for this service. Your local branch can provide details. The regulations do not give you entitlement to free collection of WEEE from your home. Local Authority bulky waste collections and collection by the Charitable and Voluntary Sector remain unaffected.

Please help us to minimise the effect we all have on the environment by recycling your waste electrical and electronic products.