Waitrose reports 74% reduction in single-use plastic bags

RetailME Bureau

To mark International Plastic Bag Free Day today (July 3), British supermarket chain Waitrose has announced the interim results of its sustainability initiative to charge 25fils per single-use plastic bag, which began on the June 16 and has already seen an incredible uptake from the local community.

Two weeks into the trial across five Abu Dhabi stores (Waitrose Etihad Towers, Waitrose Sun and Sky Reem Island, Waitrose Al Zeina, Waitrose Saadiyat Beach Community and Waitrose Eastern Mangroves), Waitrose has reported a 74% reduction in the single-use of plastic bags, with over 5,728 people purchasing a reusable plastic bag in the past fortnight. Comparing the data annually, the supermarket sold only 60 reusable bags, in the same period last year.

Launched in a bid to encourage shoppers to reduce the amount of plastic used, Waitrose has received widespread positive feedback from customers with 37% willing to pay more than 25fils for a plastic bag and nearly two-thirds of shoppers (60%) admitting they support the initiative due to the impact plastic pollution has on the environment.

The in-store bag exchange, where customers can deposit any used bags for other shoppers to use has gained strong traction, resulting in the decision to roll this out across all Waitrose stores, making it easier for customers to recycle, reuse and reduce their plastic use.

Commenting on the initial results, Matthew Frost, CEO of Fine Fare Food Market, says, “We may only be two weeks into our plastic bag charge trial, but the fantastic uptake shows customers are willing to make small changes to their behaviour to help bring about a positive effect on the environment. The plummeting plastic bag use, 74% in the first two weeks of the initiative, demonstrates the benefits that just a small change in our everyday lives can make.”

“There is always more we can do, but these initial findings show us that the community fully supports our decision and we hope that following conclusion of the trial, this initiative can be rolled out across of all our nine stores and beyond’,” he adds.