Whole Story

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Leading the Green Packaging Charge

By Jeremiah McElwee, September 8, 2010  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Jeremiah McElwee
I'm thrilled to announce that our new Whole Foods Market responsible packaging guidelines for nutritional supplements and personal care products went into effect on September 1st! Creating these guidelines has been a long time (2+ years) in the works, and we are walking our talk by switching to a 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) content bottle for several store-brand supplements. Our 365 brand body care items are also in 50% PCR content HDPE (high-density polyethylene) bottles as well. Look for the leaf symbol on our Whole Foods Market brand supplements, which indicates that the bottles are made from 100% PCR PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic. We expect to have all of our house-brand Whole Foods Market supplement products switched to PCR packaging by late 2010. As a leader in sustainability, we know that post consumer waste recycled materials are the way to go. They require less energy and water to produce, and they generate far fewer greenhouse gases, while diverting reusable materials out of the landfill and reducing reliance on virgin petrochemicals. In developing our new responsible packaging guidelines for nutritional supplements and personal care products, my team worked with 25 of our largest Whole Body product suppliers. The guidelines mandate that Whole Body suppliers reduce the use of plastic in product packaging, encourage the switch to glass when possible and limit acceptable packaging materials to those that are the most recyclable and/or feature the highest possible recycled content. We also utilized packaging experts in plastic, glass and paper mediums to help us define the most responsible path for product suppliers to take when designing their packaging. All new Whole Body department suppliers must meet the packaging guidelines before their products can be sold in our stores. All current Whole Body vendors are encouraged to change their packaging to fit the new guidelines as soon as operationally possible. It's really been great to see how responsive our vendors have been in making changes to provide even more green options for our customers. And even more exciting still is that through the development process, we've been able to create a forum for vendors to share best practices, helping the whole industry move forward with the environment top of mind. A huge thank you to everyone who has helped get us to this point, and let's all keep moving forward together. Keep any eye out for the leaf!




Sarah says ...
WF still contributing to a world of good! But still a tiny bad that I must point out. Sorry for the buzzkill, it's still a great action. While I'm sure it's the exception, New Mexico still doesn't have consistent glass recycling, but does recycle most plastics. Glass can be shipped more than 300 miles across state lines, or can sit in a pile at the local landfill waiting for someone to come up with a beneficial use (but no longer than a year, then it's trash...). Both glass and plastic are shipped great distances - the state is enormous, and too much fuel gets burned every mile. Plastic is less dense than glass, so more can be shipped over the road without busting the 40-ton rule, making it economically viable to ship to other regions that have such industry. In the interest of local sustainability, is WF offering a recycling program to receive these not-locally-recyclable glass containers? Does WF allow exemptions to the New Mexico and other stores located in areas without the means to see this packaging full-circle?
09/09/2010 12:04:59 PM CDT
Emily says ...
Great idea! Looking forward to seeing this on the shelves. Emily Lozano Print and Package Designer
09/09/2010 3:35:18 PM CDT
paig292 says ...
@Sarah Wow, I had no idea about the challenges with glass recycling in New Mexico. I checked in with regional leadership for your area and it seems that recycling in New Mexico is managed by the government and they do not accept glass, which is unfortunate since glass is one of the most highly recyclable materials. Perhaps they do not have a facility near enough to make recycling viable. For our part, our store on Wyoming Street in Albuquerque is testing out a program to accept glass recycling, which is then back hauled to our distribution center in Denver. Please know that this is a test and we have some bugs to work out of the process. Once it is working well, we'll expand to other stores. Stay tuned and know that we are working to find a solution for our customers. Thanks for your concern.
09/10/2010 5:13:12 PM CDT
Lisa says ...
Way to go! I love being able to shop at a store that makes good decisions so I have less to worry about when I shop. Thanks!
09/15/2010 6:56:20 PM CDT
Steph says ...
Way to go, WF!!! So exciting to see a major retailer recognizing the sustainability of glass. So often people just focus on one part of glass' life cycle - shipping. Clearly WF recognizes that shipping is really a very small part of glass' complete carbon footprint of glass. Add in the fact that glass is completely and infinitely recyclable and you've got a win for everyone. Kudos, Whole Foods!
09/17/2010 8:12:08 AM CDT
kim says ...
Do you have supplier list for 100% pcr packaging source? Thanks
03/17/2011 9:06:24 PM CDT
brad bailey - Your Packaging Guru says ...
To respond to Kims request about a list of PCR Packaging Sources. Most companies that make PET or CPET (ovenable PET) packaging can use RePET (PCR PET). I know of a few current Whole Foods vendors that pack their foods in RePET. If the companies are directed, they can and will use 100% PCR. There are some limitations with ovenable PET which the #1 manufacturer in the world can use as much as 60% PCR PET. A majority of the product I manufacture are from 100% PCR. It doesnt cost any more and usually is cheaper. As long as we do not have readily available Commercial Composting Facilities, I would push 100% PCR.
01/26/2012 6:17:21 PM CST
chuck miller says ...
Can you send me the link to your sustainable packaging guidelines for suppliers as I need them to quote for packaging? Thanks, Chuck Miller
01/13/2015 1:56:27 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@CHUCK - Our buying is done at the regional level so I would suggest reaching out to the regional office in your area to speak with a buyer. You can find office info at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/company-info/regional-offices.
01/13/2015 4:45:21 PM CST