The well-known retail chain Morrisons has announced the changes it has made and the plans they have for more changes, in order to achieve their goals of eliminating plastic waste. The efforts the stores are making to reduce the amount of plastic waste, is shown with the changes they are making both within the store and within customer’s homes.
The stores will eliminate plastic waste produced by them, through reducing, replacing or eliminating plastic, along with driving forwards ideas and practices of reusing and recycling. The overall aim is to follow the guidance laid out by the UK Plastics Pact which includes, 100% recyclability, reusability, or compostability for all its own-brand plastic packaging. Plus, an average of 30% recycled content across its own-brand primary plastic packaging. Finally, a 50% reduction rate, should be shown in statistics comparing 2017 to the current date, in the store’s own brand primary plastic packaging. So far, following the UK Plastics Pact’s advice, Morrisons has stated that it has already removed one billion single-use plastic items from its various stores.
A multitude of changes have been made to ensure that plastic waste is reduced both within the store through the packages it stocks and then further reduced inside the consumer’s home. The first few ways this has been done is through adapting and changing the kind of packaging and items they will stock, therefore products and product packaging has been changed, to suit this requirement. There are various examples of this change being made, for example, 331 million plastic tea bags have been exchanged for plant-based alternatives, 31.2 million single-use cutlery items have been changed and 80 million plastic straws have been swapped for metal or paper alternatives within their cafes. Their own-brand cotton buds are now fully paper-stemmed. Other examples include, 400 tons of plastic being removed from the mincemeat trays, plus 110 tons from the bread bags. 6,000 tons of non-recyclable plastic has been eliminated from the store as expanded polystyrene, black plastic, rigid PVC and other hard-to-recycle plastics are no longer available at Morrisons. A final change within the store, is the switch from plastic to paper for its ‘bag for life’. This change not only eliminates plastic and plastic waste, but is also better for the environment and where it is manufactured in Wales, the paper bag is sourced from sustainably managed forests and is capable of holding a maximum of 16kg.
Other ways that the store is eliminating plastic is within consumer’s homes, through making it easier for them to recycle, by putting recycling labels on the packaging, which display information encouraging consumers to recycle more, and instructions stating that the customer should return the packaging to the store if they are unable to recycle the product properly at home. These labels have been added to the store’s top 400 lines, which means that as 86% of Morrison’s packaging is marked as recyclable, an estimated 500 million products display this label. Furthermore, looking into the reuse and refill aim, they have introduced a scheme in which customers will be entitled to a 25p discount, if they bring their own cup to the Morrison’s café, or their own container to the butchers, fish mongers or deli counters. Water refill stations have also been added to the stores.
Other efforts have included things such as partnerships and ensuring products are locally sourced. For example, Morrisons announced that they have agreed with local dairy farmers to sell milk in returnable glass bottles, with the idea behind this being to save 40,000 plastic cartons every year. One of their future aims, which sits on the same lines as the milk cartons, is to eliminate the use of trigger-operated plastic bottles for cleaning chemicals and replace them with water-soluble pods. They have also made a partnership with Podback which will allow them to have conveniently placed recycling points for coffee pods at 29 of their stores. They have another partnership with Yes Recycling in Soctland, which will grant them co-ownership of the recycling site which is dedicated to hard-to-recycle soft plastics.