Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

 

105 Comments

Comments

Kitty says ...
I like the idea that WFM is seeking more environmentally friendly packaging. However, I seldom buy anything "packaged." How about not passing on the costs of your experiment to those of us who already avoid "packaging"? I already take re-usable bags to my favorite WFM. Maybe I should also take my re-usable glass containers in and have them weighed before I hit the bulk aisles!
09/22/2010 9:13:49 PM CDT
Deborah says ...
I would definitely buy food this way instead of on Styrofoam! The appeal of buying something compostable refocuses my eye on the product not the packaging. PLEASE find a way to make this happen! We all need better options. And maybe we could then convince the schools to use an alternative to their Styrofoam trays too! Thank you for your efforts!
09/23/2010 9:00:42 AM CDT
Alexa Wilson says ...
Why din't we get rid of the trays alltogether. Here are some thoughts: Do we really need mushrooms on trays and plastic wrapped, right next to the same mushrooms that can be put in a reusable container? Can we have a program that actively encourages people to bring their own (reusable / second use) bags/containers for fruit, veggies, meat and bulk purchases. I mean in addition to those ridiculously overpriced netty things that are hidden away in the vegetable department as a gesture towards doing the right thing. Hauling something all the way from China to wrap our food is even crazier than hauling the food itself accros these distances.
09/23/2010 11:28:13 AM CDT
Lynn says ...
I live in a small town in Nova Scotia, Canada. We used to have a butcher and he used butcher paper. He retired and now the little store is closed so I have to purchase meat at the bigger supermarkets. I really dislike styrofoam. I'd be happy to see the old way come back as far as packaging meat is concerned and I'd even be willing to take in my own reusable containers. I'm glad you are taking steps to make things better.
09/23/2010 9:13:05 PM CDT
Michael says ...
Hi there, You have no idea about how many foam tray that people throw away every day. I am working in a big Asian Supermarket, and I can tell: it's a lot. The foam tray we use for 1 day can fill up to the ceiling of your bed room. I am not a green guy, but I know how important it is to protect our environment. Glad to hear that we may have something to replace the foam tray, and in the future, get rid of plastic bag.
09/23/2010 11:50:14 PM CDT
Mel says ...
I like Charlie's idea of butcher paper. If customers need to see inside, perhaps a butcher paper with a center strip that is see-through plastic, prefereablly not anything worse than the plastic wrap for the trays.
09/24/2010 9:10:23 AM CDT
herb keener says ...
I applaud your efforts but I have to wonder how safe and reliable a product made only in china could be.
09/24/2010 12:20:24 PM CDT
Heather says ...
I like Charlie's idea. I like the idea of the butcher paper. Most the time I will go to the meat counter so that I can use the butcher paper instead of getting the meat that is packaged in the Styrofoam trays. Thanks WFM for the post.
09/24/2010 1:09:19 PM CDT
Fran says ...
I would suggest you use a vacuum sealing process for the meat You can seal it, slap on an information sticker and you're good to go. Not only would you would eliminate the need for a tray, the product would be "freezer" ready!
09/24/2010 2:13:02 PM CDT
James says ...
I can't believe that Whole Foods Market is exerting this kind of effort to find a more environmentally sound way to package products. It is exactly this kind of thing that keeps me coming back to Whole Foods. I am so appreciative of the fact that this issue is even being considered and researched. Whole Foods Market is definitely the place to shop for quality products and it is worthwhile efforts such as these that have turned me away from other supermarket chains. Keep up the great work. It is definitely noticed.
09/24/2010 5:08:28 PM CDT
barbara says ...
i just saw where chinete is making a plate with sugar cane ..this did catch my eye ,,great renewable way to save the enviorment :) glad to see retailers are moving forward for a healthier planet
09/25/2010 6:56:35 AM CDT
Chris says ...
I am thrilled that you are working on an alternative to that ubiquitous but inherently dangerous styrofoam. My oncologist is strongly committed to informing her patients of the connecton between plastic and cancer. Not to mention that we need to reduce our reliance on petroleum. Those of us who shop at Whole Foods, I am sure, have more discerning tastes than the general public. I can overlook the look and feel knowing that it's just healthier for the enviroment - and me!
09/25/2010 7:12:05 PM CDT
Terry says ...
You should consider thermoformed corrugated. It can be made with recyclable moisture/grease/vapor resistant coatings or recyclable film. The corrugated part makes it fiber efficient and strong.
09/26/2010 5:53:36 AM CDT
Denise says ...
I wholeheartedly support the move away from styrofoam. I had read this article yesterday and went shopping today. I had one meat purchase wrapped in butcher's paper and another in the thick plastic wrap. No leaks, fit in my reusable bag no problem, popped them in the freezer when I got home. I don't see the need for trays of any kind!
09/26/2010 8:58:15 PM CDT
Kathy says ...
I think it is great that this issue is being addressed by Whole Foods. Not seeing styrofoam trays would be wonderful! And I must say that there are a lot of insightful comments and queries regarding alternative materials and sourcing issues that have been posted by consumers on this blog; I hope the posts are being seriously reviewed by Whole Foods. Thanks!
09/26/2010 9:46:03 PM CDT
Chrissy says ...
The Whole Foods I go to has the Meat Counter (few others in the area do not), but I try to always go to the counter, and that way the meat is wrapped fresh and isn't in the Styrofoam either. I think the people who shop @ Whole Foods could care less about the packaging, as long as their meats look good. But with the meat counter...you wouldn't have added costs of packaging either.
09/27/2010 9:13:16 AM CDT
Peanut butter says ...
i loove this articlle !
09/27/2010 9:45:57 AM CDT
p says ...
love that you are looking into getting rid of styrofoam. i'm constantly looking for ways to eliminate artifical packaging products from my food - i don't even like the plastic wrap, let alone the styrofoam. how about you just sell the meat straight from the meat case, much like most of the unfrozen fish/seafood is sold? then it can simply be wrapped in wax paper, and then in the white whole foods logo paper and it's done. how much styrofoam and plastic wrap could you save that way? tons! not to mention the cost of developing yet another made in china product. cos you know once you start buying tons of these trays, there will be bullrush cultivation farms springing up and it will no longer be organic, chemical free etc. ditto with fresh veggies. why are there shrink-wrapped peas and beans and mushrooms, when you can just scoop up some and put into a bag? at any rate, kudos to you for working on this. oh and as a customer: i don't give two whits about the trays looking less attractive if it keeps my food away from toxic styrofoam and reduces trash.
09/27/2010 12:03:20 PM CDT
Kolleen says ...
Styrofoam is awful. Can you believe childrens lunches at school are served on these! I don't have a suggestion for you on a better alternative, though. But would have no problem purchasing something in a black container if I knew it was eco friendly and safe.
09/27/2010 8:48:42 PM CDT
Mary L says ...
I won't mind paying a one time fee for a re-usable container to replace any packaging or to pay more for a more environmental packaging, even if it's less appealing to the eye. I'd like to think most people will be persuaded if they understand why.
09/28/2010 11:28:42 AM CDT
Green Foodie says ...
Get rid of Strofoam ASAP!!! I really support your move away from Styrofoam. In fact, our family completely stopped buying anything packaged in Styrofoam long ago. While your move to a more earth-friendly tray is laudable, and I hope to stop seeing styrofoam in all it's forms in your stores, I wish Whole Foods would consider eliminating use of this type of tray-and-plastic-film packaging (whether foam or fiber) altogether. (Compostable disposable containers are certainly far better than styrofoam, but composting facilities are not available to all - urban apartment dwellers are a huge group, so a lot of these containers still go to landfills, where they won't compost in an anaerobic environment). My family will only go to the meat or seafood counters to get our selections wrapped in butcher paper only. I'm with Charlie, Marie, JoeMerint, Mike, AlexaWilson, Mel, Heather, Denise, Chrissy, p, and many others. Let's move away from trays of any kind altogether! This goes doubly if there is no US company making fiber trays, requiring shipping heavy trays from China. Eliminating trays of any kind eliminates the cost to buy any kind of tray, cost of shipping heavy trays from China, cost of the plastic to wrap the trays, and all the extra packaging that truly is unneeded. If Whole Foods insists on offering tray-packaged meats of any sort, please put a charge for the tray on those purchases using trays, so those who buy the tray-packaged products rightly bear the high cost of using the unneeded packaging. Those who make the effort to eliminate the cost and waste of unneeded packaging should be spared unfairly bearing the cost for those who choose to use it. (This goes for both styrofoam and fiber). As shown by the great success of your "discount for bringing your own shopping bag" program, adding a monetary incentive makes customers actually stop to think about their ingrained default behaviors, and provides the impetus to get them to actually modify behavior. Eliminating trays of any kind altogether: For off hours when paying to staff meat/seafood counters fully may not be practical, and only tray-packaged product is currently offered, perhaps there is a way to implement some sort of pager or bell system, so customers could still easily buy non-tray-packaged product by ringing (a counter attendant, who might be doing stocking, meat cutting, or something else during the off hours, could then come over to help the customer, going into the back if needed to get what the customer needs wrapped in butcher paper. Some version of this pager system idea might be a way to completely eliminate all tray packaging, even in off-hours. Reducing the number of different items, and the number of packages of any one item, offered in wrapped trays would certainly be a start in the right direction (and would help with fiber trays degrading too soon as the article says). But the real solution is encouraging customers to actively think of using minimal packaging for meats (maybe signage at the cases to turn the lightbulb on?); someone here said the thought never even occurred to them, and this is likely the case for many (simple awareness is the key for this group). I think in general, the type of people who go to Whole Foods are largely receptive of going greener, especially when given incentive to do so, to get the ball rolling. Initially, it may take some thought to first start a green behavior to replace a default ingrained behavior, but ultimately, a lot of green behaviors then become second nature and the "normal" way. After all, a lot of these are the way everyone always did things before plastic/foam (the green way used to be the natural default way). For your concern about tray color, I also think most WF customers are receptive of green moves despite color/appearance, particularly when told why. Also on the subject of reducing non-renewable packaging, I wish it were possible to buy more produce items bulk without plastic bag packaging. For example, green beans, cherries, and brussel sprouts are sold in many Whole Foods stores pre-portioned into plastic zip-bags. We now live in the Chicago area, but when we lived in CA, many standard groceries there (including those that are not Whole Foods) sold cherries in bulk right out of the big cardboard flats, rather than pre-portioned in plastic bags. If your suppliers are shipping in the little bags, I would think it would be easy for WF to request they be sent without them. When shopping produce, we do a combination of bringing our own plastic bags to the store to re-use, and increasingly, our own non-disposable, reuseable cloth produce bags to use for small produce such as green beans, brussel sprouts, cherries, and the like, that need something to hold them. However, when we encounter them sold only pre-portioned in plastic bags, and not offered loose, we now just forego buying these things at WF, and opt for a Farmers Market instead. We'd buy these items at Whole Foods during our weekly trip for groceries, if it wasn't for the inability at some stores to buy them easily without consuming a plastic bag every time. The holed plastic bags commonly used for cherries and the like are also particularly hard to find another use for, due to the holes. It's also easier to get the amount one needs when these are not pre-portioned into bags (without taking some out of one bag and moving some into another). Many farmers markets across the country have gone "no plastic bags, BYO bag/container," and I wish Whole Foods would consider implementing this. Perhaps you could consider offering a small discount (as you do for shopping bags), as an incentive for customers to start bringing their own reuseable produce bags for these small produce items, rather than consuming disposable non-renewable plastic. You'd get a lot more of my produce business if there was a way I could buy these produce items in bulk, without consuming new plastic bags. Unfortunately, the WF stores I've come across that use pre-portioned plastic bags for an item, only offer the product that way, and there is absolutely no loose product offered. If there was at least a pile of bulk, un-packaged green beans, cherries, etc. offered under or next to the pre-bagged portions, I could at least choose to use my own bag, but in stores I've been in that pre-portion, this has not even been an option. Perhaps corporate could request stores to offer at least some loose product (with no empty bags and signage to encourage BYO-bag). I would love to see this non-renewable (and unnecessary) pre-portioned plastic bag packaging eventually completely eliminated from stores, and see WF stores move to "BYO bag" like many farmers markets have done. I'm with Kitty: I'd love for there to be a weigh-station, where I could bring my reusable glass containers to get tare-weighed before hitting the bulk section. I'd also love to see a similar set-up in produce, so I could put my green beans directly into a plastic food storage container (which can go directly into the fridge), and eliminate any sort of produce bag whatsoever (whether plastic first-use, plastic re-use, or even my cloth ones). I also agree with Lynn: I'd be willing (would even prefer) to bring my own reusable container for meats/seafood. Could Whole Foods come up with a system to weigh a purchase, then after weighing, put it in the customer's reusable container (a plastic or glass food-storage container or whatever) with no other packaging? That would eliminate any kind of tray, any kind of soaker pad, any kind of plastic wrap, and even the butcher paper, (along with the significant cost and waste stream of all of them). Something like this could both decrease costs for WF for all that packaging (and thereby the cost to the customer, who would not have those packaging costs passed on), while at the same time doing huge amounts for decreasing waste streams of all kinds. Decreasing costs, while doing better for the earth: a win-win combination. Going back to the old way (before plastic wrap and foam packaging was invented), would be a double-whammy step in the right direction. Please consider putting some research and logistics study into implementing a reusable container program like this. Everyone used to buy meat without packaging in butcher paper, and it would be great to go back to that, but even better would be going one step further to eliminate that waste stream as well, with a reusable container. Convenience: Some may consider trays more convenient while at the store, but if you think about it, getting no packaging has some convenience benefits over trays, after getting home. If I bring my meat home already in my own reusable container, it can go right into the fridge (without even putting a plate under it to catch inevitable leaks from the plastic-wrapped tray), and I can marinate right in the same container, without my having to unpackage it first. There's also the benefit of no smelly garbage from the soaker pad/tray/paper (soaker pads are nearly impossible to "rinse" to be smell free), which I find very convenient, and apart from the smell, there's the benefit of just far less volume of trash. So in my mind, trays vs. no packaging is at worst convenience-neutral, but I loath smelly garbage, so for me no packaging wins hands down! Bottom line: I whole-heartedly support WF efforts to move away from styrofoam (you can't get rid of it fast enough!), but while alternative packaging is certainly a step in the right direction, I think efforts would be better spent bringing a reusable container program to fruition. Especially given the cost and potential safety of shipping trays from China, and the fact that plastic-wrapped trays of any kind still have a significant waste stream (many will not be composted, plastic wrap mostly staight to landfill), I would like to see efforts spent reducing cost while still doing great for the earth. Eliminating packaging is the way to go - from a cost standpoint, from a waste standpoint, and ultimately, (though it may not seem like it until you really think about it) from a convenience standpoint, too.
09/29/2010 4:16:52 PM CDT
Anne says ...
I agree with those proposing to move to meat-counter only, and would rather pay for more service jobs in my purchase price than to packaging of any type, with the advantage of the social interaction. Presumably eliminating the convenience and immediacy of pre-packaged would require more hands on deck at the counter.
09/29/2010 5:24:12 PM CDT
Sr. M. R. de la Secoya says ...
I know that I have seen some pressed paper trays advertised, but I didn't pay attention at the time. I thought that the information came from www.globalspec.com. But, I am not able to find the data in their database now. If I see it again, I will keep your need in mind.
09/29/2010 5:51:39 PM CDT
Jaunda Payne says ...
I think this is a wonderful idea and would certainly not be offended by the less desirable look of the fiber trays! I am always 100% behind making cleaner/greener changes. Sign me up!
09/29/2010 5:59:50 PM CDT
k. davison says ...
I have concern about the source country; too many products from China contain heavy metals and other toxins. Is Whole Foods testing the Bull Rush in the pre production stage for contaminants? What about trying the old paper pulp trays?
09/29/2010 7:03:53 PM CDT

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