Packaging Retail Self-Regulation

Trader Joe’s Goes Bioplastics

On December 31, 2018, Trader Joe’s announced a plan to focus on more sustainable and environmentally-friendly packaging. The initiative has several goals outlined: “reducing and removing packaging, sourcing renewable and recycled packaging materials, choosing packaging that can be realistically recycled, avoiding the use of harmful substances in packaging, and providing recycling and disposal instructions for customers,” according to its site. The move was made in response to customer feedback, as well as the brand’s “desire to be great neighbors,” and several changes have already been made to reduce plastic usage in stores. And, in the February edition of its circular—the Fearless Flyer— the grocery store promised that more changes are on the way in 2019, reports SFGate.

“As we fulfill these steps in 2019, on an annual basis, we are eliminating more than 1 million pounds of plastic from our stores,” the circular said. “Thank you; we’re listening.”

As of December 31, the following changes have already been implemented at Trader Joe’s stores, according to the site: single-use plastic carryout bags are no longer offered in stores nationwide, plastic produce bags have been replaced with biodegradable and compostable bags, there’s a recycling and disposal resource and the store also told vendors that it wants to avoid using several substances in packaging, including Bisphenol A (BPA). Styrofoam trays are also out in the produce aisle, replaced with a compostable alternative.

Going forward, changes Trader Joe’s will tackle in 2019 include reducing the number of produce items that are sold in plastic packages, including apples, potatoes, and pears; removing non-recyclable plastic and foil pouches from tea packages; and swapping out styrofoam trays in the fresh meat section with “PET1 Trays that are highly recyclable,” per the site. Also on the horizon? Wrapping flower bouquets in renewable bags, as opposed to plastic, and replacing plastic sleeves on greeting cards with a “renewable, compostable material.”

Trader Joe’s joins multiple other brands in the crusade against single-use plastic—Starbucks, Joe Coffee, Intelligentsia Coffee, and Shake Shack all announced their commitment to eliminate plastic straws last year. Starbucks pledged to nix its signature green straws by 2020 (which is why you may have seen sippy lids recently in your local store); the coffee chain also teamed up with McDonald’s to design a new recyclable, compostable cup. And Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti announced back in August that Shake Shack intended to eliminate all plastic straws from Shake Shacks nationwide during the first quarter of 2019.

If you’re looking for more ways to reduce your plastic waste, we recently rounded up a few reusable lunch containers that are plastic-free, ranging from a stainless-steel set by U Konserve to paper sandwich bags from LunchSkins.

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This article was published on foodandwine.com and written by Bridget Hallinan.