Friday, February 09, 2007

Waitrose and packaging

Why is there a picture of a lasagne on my blog you may ask?

Well I have just had some home shopping delivered from Waitrose.

In the shopping (as ordered) were two Waitrose Lasagnes (see above)

I was absolutely stunned by the amount of packaging involved - each Lasagne is contained in a foil tray with a film of plastic over the top. That is then sheathed in a cardboard cover with the cooking instructions on it. But the piece de resistance was the individual cardboard box that each of the two Lasagnes was contained in. Why oh why in this day and age is this level of packaging considered to be necessary?

I went to the environmental bit of the John Lewis website here and it says very clearly "we regularly review our business practices and performance to identify how we can improve our energy efficiency, minimise packaging and reduce air emissions, waste disposal, water usage and the impacts of our transport operations."

Well John Lewis / Waitrose you claim to minimise packaging but the evidence says otherwise. I have emailed them so we will see what of response I get.


Tony Ferguson said...

Initial response from Waitrose

Thank you for your e-mail, which we are currently investigating. Should you need to contact my team further about this matter please do so at the e-mail address above or telephone freephone 0800-188884.

Kind regards

Very quick but probably automated

Tony Ferguson said...

Next reponse so quick it must be a bog standard answer they give out but does not explain why they have increased the packaging on this item!
So I have emailed them back

Thank you for your e-mail.

Over-packaging adds to costs and there is no incentive for us or our suppliers to do this.

We are working towards substantially reducing our packaging. Indeed the Waitrose Technical Policy which covers this area states that our packaging must be designed and produced to permit its reuse or recovery, including recycling and to reduce the volume and weight to a minimum adequate to maintain the necessary level of safety, hygiene and acceptance. Recycled materials should be used when suitable. Waitrose own label product packaging now includes recycling information.

At Waitrose the total amount of packaging used has been falling. In 1999 we handled 56000 tonnes of primary packaging (excluding fruit and vegetables and imported items mainly wines) compared with 57000 tonnes in 1998 and 58600 in 1997, As the number of items sold increased over this period the averaged packaging per item fell by 4.9%. This reduction is due to lighter weight materials and the removal of some packaging components.

Waitrose has actively removed one trip transit packaging that has to be disposed of after one use from its distribution system replacing it with reusable plastic trays.

We have stated that PVC must be removed from existing packaging as soon as practicable. We have also worked with other retailers and the PVC industry in a group chaired by Jonathan Porrit, Programme Director of Forum for the Future, to devise protocols for the manufacture of PVC in the UK. Steady progress is being made and our PVC policy, which has been in place since 1996, is kept under review.

MsDemmie said...

I suspect they have had a few leakages along the way where they have been dropped or nudged or prodded.

It is a ridiculous amount of packaging.

I would love to see some investigation of the relationship line between home delivery & packaging versus personal shopping expressed in costs to the environment.

Do you know of any environmental websites that have this type of information?

Tony Ferguson said...

Your answer may be the answer to the reason why they have done this. A bit more care in picking and packing might resolve this issue. I agree that a comparison of whether we should all go the shops individually or rely on home delivery services would be useful

Tony Ferguson said...

I have replied to Waitrose along the following lines

You have not addressed the issue I raised - see the photo

I regularly buy Lasagnes from you and they have never come with this excessive level of packaging.

Someone has made the decision to increase the level of packaging on this item - given your responsibilities under the legislation on packaging this response is simply not good enough.

I have published you responses on the blog. Perhaps you can now investigate properly, find out what the problem is and determine to do something about it and communicate that back to me