Whole Foods Endorses PCR Packages

DN Staff

September 14, 2010

2 Min Read
Whole Foods Endorses PCR Packages

Whole Foods Market, a leader in green trends, is nowrequiring suppliers to comply with its new "responsible packaging" guidelines,which put a heavy reliance on use of post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials.

"As a leader in sustainability, we know that post-consumerwaste recycled materials are the way to go," says Jeremiah McElwee, seniorglobal Whole Body coordinator at Whole Foods Market. "They require less energy and water to produce, and theygenerate far fewer greenhouse gases, while diverting reusable materials out ofthe landfill and reducing reliance on virgin petrochemicals."

The guidelines also mandate that the company's more than2,100 body care and supplement suppliers reduce the use of plastic in productpackaging, encourage the switch to glass when possible, and limit acceptablepackaging materials to those that are easily reused or recycled.

Whole Foods began work on the guidelines in 2008 with 25 ofits largest personal care product suppliers. Effective Sept. 1, Whole Foodssays all new body care and supplement suppliers must meet the packagingguidelines before their products can be sold in the company's more than 300locations across the U.S., Canada, and the UK.

In an attempt to jumpstart the change, the Texas-basedsupermarket chain is switching all of its house-brand Whole Body products,which now use amber-plastic PET No. 1 bottles, to PCR packaging by late thisyear. The new bottles bear a leaf symbol indicating that they are made from 100percent PCR plastic.

Whole Foods is not allowing use of plastics made fromrenewable resources in its new packaging guidelines. A new report from BCC Research indicates that bioplastics are rapidlygaining traction for packaging applications for environmental reasons. Theirstrongest pitch is reduction of materials' carbon footprint, but they can alsobe composted in appropriate facilities.

"We have chosen not to support the use of polylactide (PLA)plastics as they are generally made from genetically modified (GMO) corn," aWhole Foods spokesperson told Design News."It's unfortunate that PLA is presented as an environmentally sensitive orsustainable alternative to plastic, as it uses conventionally grown GMO corn.We would prefer that we be able to purchase PLA made directly from non-GMO ororganic corn."

Whole Foods allows PLA packaging in products sold in itsstores, but does not market them as a "green" or sustainable alternative toplastic packaging materials.

"We have begun to test other alternative packagingmaterials, including biodegradable containers made from bulrush (cattails),"the spokesperson said. "Takeout containers in many of our stores are made fromthis material, and we are actively looking for other alternatives to replacepackaging materials in our stores with greener materials."

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