Waitrose has today (2nd May) announced an ambitious target to cut its packaging in half by 2016. And the retailer has announced three major changes to its product ranges that will help achieve this target, together saving nearly 100 tonnes of packaging each year.
The Menu from Waitrose range of prepared meals has been relaunched with a full redesign and packaging update for all of the 49 products within the range. The width of the sleeves on the outside of the products has been decreased, resulting in a reduction of 33 tonnes of packaging per year - equivalent to a 20 per cent overall weight saving.
It is also the first time that a retailer has introduced aluminium trays, lacquered both internally and externally, for ready meals achieving a more attractive, earthenware appearance. This means that customers can cook and serve the meals in the same tray and are still able to recycle it after use.
The Good to Go range of 190 snacks and sandwiches has also been re-launched, with packaging reductions totalling 25 tonnes per year. Changes include increasing the size of the clear window on sandwiches to allow better visibility of the product, cutting 11 tonnes of packaging per year. Pre-printed bags for fruit portions were also developed, saving 60 per cent of the weight by taking off the label.
And - after being introduced for mince and diced meat in 2010 - ‘flow wrap’ packaging has now been gradually rolled out for all meat including lamb and pork. By removing the plastic tray in the packs of pork and lamb, Waitrose will be cutting back on 38 tonnes of packaging per year - a 70 per cent saving.
The packs can be easily snipped open and the contents slid into the pan, saving time in the kitchen as well as space in the refuse sack. The robust yet lightweight nature means they can withstand other items being placed on top of them in the shopping bag and take up less space in the fridge.
Waitrose Packaging and Reprographics Manager, Karen Graley said: “We are always working hard to reduce packaging where we can, to decrease the waste reaching our customers’ bins and ensure they can recycle as much as possible. Re - launching a range is a fantastic opportunity to do this and cutting packaging by nearly 100 tonnes per year is a great result to have achieved on our journey to halving packaging by 2016.”
The Waitrose Way Commitments
Halving packaging by 2016 compared to 2005 is one of the twelve pledges in the Waitrose Way commitments, which launched this week.
The Commitments span the four ‘Waitrose Way’ CSR pillars: Treading Lightly, Championing British, Treating People Fairly and Living Well, and consolidate the retailer's responsibility work in to one place - setting clear targets for the business to achieve.
Waitrose Head of Sustainability and Ethical Sourcing, Quentin Clark said: “These pledges by no means cover everything we're up to. But when we spoke to customers these 12 areas are what people said really mattered most.
"As a nation we're getting busier, and lack of time means we need to be able to trust the retailer we are using. So when creating these pledges we made sure the emphasis was on how we we're being part of the solution, now and in the future - we want it to be really easy for our customers to know we’re doing the right thing.”
The Waitrose Way Commitments
1. We’re cutting energy (and growing trees)
We’re using low carbon technology for any new-builds and 100% renewable energy in all our UK stores. We’ve also planted thousands of trees with the Woodland Trust to absorb the carbon from Waitrose.com deliveries.
By 2020, we aim to reduce our carbon footprint, even though our business will double in size. Over 40 of our stores will be powered by renewable woodchips. And we’ll replace all our lights with energy-efficient LEDs.
2. We’re shrinking waste
We’re already reducing our packaging, making it easier to recycle, and sending zero food waste to landfill (surplus, fit for purpose food is donated to charity, and unusable food is turned into energy through anaerobic digestion).
By 2016, we’ll have halved our packaging compared to 2005 and increased the amount you can recycle yourself – so you put less in the bin. We’ll also make sure all our surplus food, provided it’s still fit to eat, goes to help local communities.
3. We’re fishing responsibly
We only stock responsibly caught or farmed fish that pass our own rigorous Responsible Sourcing Code of Practice.
By 2016, we will be adding to this by also ensuring all our fish is independently certified as sustainable.
4. We’re doing the right thing by farmers (and their flock, herd or brood)
We’ve carefully chosen farmers who share our values. All of their animals are reared to exceptional standards – and they get a fair price for their produce.
For example we now have more than 30 Livestock Producer Groups, supporting farmers and giving them an assured market.
We’ll continue to set the standard with Waitrose products, always seeking ways to improve the quality of care.
But you needn’t take our word for it. We’ll be recognised by independent industry experts for leading the way - for example Compassion in World Farming, who most recently awarded us their Good Pig Award (Sep 2012) for using only higher welfare pork in all our food.
5. We’re backing British
As farmers ourselves at Leckford Farm, we’re right at the heart of British agriculture. In fact, we already stock all of our fresh beef, pork and chicken from British farmers – and that includes the meat in our ready meals.
Together with our farmers, we’ll continue to use the best sustainable farming methods. Every year we will contribute over £1 billion to the farmers and suppliers behind our fresh products.
For example Waitrose is asking suppliers of fruit, vegetables and flowers to avoid the use of three formulations of neonicotinoid based pesticides on crops destined for its shelves, while we fund research in to concerns about their effect on bees, butterflies and other important pollinators.
6. We’re championing regional suppliers
We’re already bringing you delicious local food from family businesses and independent suppliers in your region.
In the next five years we’ll be supporting thousands of food heroes and hundreds of small companies, who together make up more than 20% of our supply base – all providing fabulous food from the heart of their communities.
7. We’re ahead of the field in organic
We’re already leading organic sales on the high street with our Duchy Organic brand.
In the next five years, alongside the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation, we’ll give more than £10 million to charitable causes – including support for agricultural sustainability through the Duchy Future Farming Programme
Treating People Fairly
8. We’re giving something back
We’re making time for our Partners to volunteer for good causes, and sharing more than £3 million of our profit each year through our Community Matters scheme.
By 2017, our Partners will have been paid to volunteer over 400,000 working hours (equivalent to more than 11,000 full working weeks) to local good causes.
We also will have donated more than £20 million to over 50,000 local causes through our Community Matters Initiative (green tokens). And, by the end of 2013, we’ll have setup local food banks at every one of our supermarkets.
9. We’re sharing more fairly traded foods
We’re already offering delicious fairly traded products through our own Waitrose Foundation and organisations such as FairTrade.
In the next five years, the Waitrose Foundation will invest over £7m to help communities in Africa. We’ll also be growing our range of fairly traded products.
10. We’re in it together
We’re owned by our Partners – so we share values as well as profits. This makes us one of the largest co-owned businesses in the world.
In the next ten years, 5,000 Partners will have been with us for more than 25 years and a further 800 will have worked a full 40. All that experience and commitment means great service, and our employee-owned culture is key to engaging all Partners to achieve our CSR commitments.
11. We’re helping you make healthy choices
We’re already clearly labelling our food and we have an online nutritionist to give you personalised help and advice.
The Nutrition Advice Service has been running for 10 years, answering around 5,500 queries each year.
We’ll give you easy to use shopping lists, designed to match your diet, health and lifestyle – however you choose to shop with us.
Lists launching include suggested products for newly diagnosed diabetics or those avoiding gluten.
12. We’re making good food even better
We’re already making mealtimes healthier by cutting salt without compromising taste. We have also removed artificial colours and artificial trans fats from our food and have minimised allergens.
In the next five years, we’ll bring you even more delicious, healthier foods. We’ll be focusing on the nutritional benefits across our range, as well as reducing the amount of salt, sugar and saturated fats.
And we’ll be publicly reporting on the progress of our health pledges in the Government’s Public Health Responsibility Deal.