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We need packaging to help us get our products to our stores, and to our customers, safely. Packaging plays a significant role in keeping our food fresh, reducing waste, and preventing our clothing from getting damaged. But we also know that packaging pollutes our natural landscape, clogging up our forests and our seas. We need to play our part in reducing single use plastic and pressing the accelerator on closed loop recycling.  

Our packaging targets  

We’re targeting net zero carbon emissions by 2040, and further reducing and reusing our packaging is a vital step on that journey.  

We have set ourselves clear targets of:  

  • 100% of our food packaging to be recyclable by 2022.

  • 30% reduction in the volume of plastic food packaging by 2027.  

Our progress so far  

We’ve already removed over 3,000 tonnes of packaging since 2018, including removing plastic trays from vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, and pears. We’ve also removed polystyrene from our pizza bases and all black plastic – which can be difficult to recycle – from across our Food Halls.  

To help cut down on packaging, we’ve rolled out over 70 loose produce lines following a successful trial at our Tolworth store, and we’re continuing to trial an additional 25 loose product lines at our test-and-learn renewal stores. Over the next 5 years we will increase our recycled content in any remaining plastic to 50% and reduce our overall packaging tonnage by 25%. 

In Clothing & Home, we’ve taken the protective plastic covers off the 500,000 cashmere jumpers we sell each year. Over 1 billion hangers have been diverted from landfill through our hanger reuse programme by asking customers to leave them at our till points or bring them back to our stores.  

Take-back scheme

In 2019, we launched a new initiative allowing customers to bring back hard-to- recycle plastic packaging by dropping it our take back bins. We will roll out our plastic take back scheme to all owned stores by March 2022.  

Fill Your Own  

As well as reducing the amount of plastic we use, we also want to encourage our customers to reuse packaging. Our popular packaging-free refillable grocery concept, ‘Fill Your Own, launched in December 2019 and offers 60 lines of refillable groceries, including pasta, rice, cereal, and nuts. More than 40% of our Fill Your Own products outsell the packaged versions. In June this year, we expanded the concept to eight additional stores, bringing the offer to a total of 13 stores. 

Like all aspects of our sustainability journey, we know that we can’t solve everything alone. That’s why we support government plans to improve the UK’s recycling system, to incentivise businesses to select more environmentally friendly or recyclable materials, and to ensure all our plastic gets recycled here in the UK. 

We’re also teaming up with businesses and NGOs to encourage change across the wider retail industry and supply chain, including signing up to the UK Plastics Pact.