Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Eco-Friendly Packaging Changes

By Rebecca Joerres, April 9, 2011  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Rebecca Joerres
We’ve made a few packaging changes in our Whole Body™ department, and in the spirit of Earth Month, thought we’d give you the details on how we are using post-consumer recycled materials. According to the EPA, nearly one-third of all municipal solid waste in the U.S. is packaging. Fortunately, people are shifting to demand more environmentally friendly forms of packaging…and we’re here to support that! When you see the PCR (post-consumer recycled) seal, that means the bottle is made with 100% PCR plastic. Some experts say that selecting products that utilize PCR plastics not only decreases production of plastic worldwide, but also reduces the release of greenhouse gases. Our 365 Everyday Value® brand offers lotion, hair care, hand sanitizers and foaming soap that are currently in 50% PCR plastic. All of the body care and supplements are transitioning to 100% PCR plastic bottles. And, the shipping cases are 30% PCR cardboard boxes. Our Whole Foods™ brand currently offers supplements in amber colored bottles that are 100% PCR plastic. Supplements in boxes are transitioning to 100% recycled (50% PCR) paperboard. The organic castile soaps are in 50% PCR bottles, and the organic bar soap packaging uses 30% PCR paper. We know that sometimes all of the choices available in our Whole Body™ department can be a bit overwhelming, so please don’t hesitate to ask a question! Our Whole Body™ Team Members are thoroughly trained and well educated about the products we offer. Some fun facts about post-consumer recycled (PCR) material:
  • PCR is made from materials that are collected from recycling programs that the public (that’s you!) participates in. These materials would most likely end up in a landfill if not recycled.
  • One ton of recycled paper saves approximately 4100 KWH of energy and 7000 gallons of water; it prevents more than 60lbs of air pollution; and saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space and approximately 17 trees versus virgin fiber.
  • PCR content PET plastic requires approximately 84% less energy to produce than it takes to make virgin plastic from fossil fuels. For a single pound of recycled PET flake, the energy use required reduces green house gas emissions by 71%.
Listen in on this interview with the co-chair of our Responsible Packaging Task Force for additional details about our new packaging and Green Mission efforts. We know that many of our customers are as committed to environmental stewardship as we are. So, tell us, how do you show your love for the planet when it comes to packaging?




Susan R-B says ...
I have been speaking to traditional grocery stores about excessive packaging. For example, King Kullen wraps individual organic green peppers in plastic. They contend that without the plastic wrap, they would not remain organic. I have found organic eggs only available in plastic cartons at Stop and Shop. It makes no sense to me.
04/09/2011 6:20:14 PM CDT
Alan D. Olin says ...
Recycling isn't offered in all parts of the U.S., so eliminating over packaging will also help to reduce municipal solid waste. As an example, the bag in a box cereal packaging not only increases land fill waste, but without a recloseable feature also increases food waste from spoilage. I have patented several new bag designs that could be used to help stop packaging and food waste for many products. Please visit my Website for more information.
04/12/2011 12:24:57 PM CDT
Melissa says ...
I love the Quantum super lysine chapstick & cold sore treatment but there is only one brand and the container is not recyclable. Is Whole Foods working with it's vendors so that they too will have more Eco friendly packaging? Also, will this carry over to other departments? Like prepared foods.
04/13/2011 11:31:03 PM CDT
bepkom says ...
@Melissa: We are continuously looking for better packaging for all of our departments. Unfortunately it can be a timely process, but we're making it happen.
04/14/2011 9:49:13 AM CDT
Jody Taslitz says ...
I'm really happy to read this and I wish you'd begin labeling GM foods. This Institute for Responsible Technology has studies showing the in mice and rats GM foods cause liver and kidney damage. Sadly, I've learned that Morning Star and Kashi now use GM product in their prepared foods. I want the right to know what I'm putting in my body.
04/14/2011 3:01:17 PM CDT
Joy says ...
Ofcourse it is a wonderful thing that whole foods is in the forefront of recycleing .....t but money talks and ultimately it is the consumer that will decide. I ask for that roasted chicken in the hot case be put in a paper box for me to bring home. They reuse the hard plastic case it is in. . I urge you all to follow me. We can change.
04/16/2011 9:59:35 AM CDT
Joy says ...
What happens to that platic at the end of the line. When it can no longer be recycled???? Does it have a limit?
04/16/2011 10:24:34 AM CDT
Barbara says ...
What is your view on the safety of PCR cardboard for foods? I read a recent article advising consumers to avoid recycled cardboard packaging because of harmful levels of organic compounds that are concentrated during the recycling process. Disconcertingly, they were able to measure contaminanats that had migrated from the cardboard through plastic bags which held the food.
04/17/2011 3:14:26 PM CDT
bepkom says ...
@Barbara: We haven’t heard of the study you’re referencing. Would you please give us some more information so that we can review it?
04/20/2011 10:36:25 AM CDT
David Luttenberger says ...
No wonder consumer confusion is so rampant. What you are telling consumers about the generic Mobius Loop/Chasing Arrows symbol -- that it means a package/bottle bottle is made with 100% PCR plastic -- is just not true.
04/22/2011 12:44:48 PM CDT
ContactoHotelero says ...
I wish we could recycle more in Argentina.
04/27/2011 10:04:47 AM CDT
Jen Thomas says ...
Here is a link to some of the research that Barbara mentioned below. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8368258/QandA-How-mineral-oils-from-recycled-paper-enter-food.html I think it is wonderful that Whole Foods is taking steps to use more eco-friendly packaging. However, I will continue to only buy products packaged in glass for personal health and safety reasons.
05/02/2011 3:27:19 PM CDT
James says ...
That's great if you are using PCR in your packaging.. Thanks for sharing such informative post with us.. Keep posting..
04/30/2013 5:49:00 AM CDT
Marina Crosby says ...
I am in Cary NC and I just saw your 100% recycled cardboard boxes. Can you tell me who your supplier is? I am having trouble finding those. I make soaps and I would like to have eco friendly packaging. Thanks! Marina.
11/16/2013 4:53:58 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@MARINA - We have tons of vendors so I'm not sure exactly which cardboard box you are referring to. If this was for a 365 product, let me know the exact product since our manufacturers differ.
11/19/2013 12:00:01 PM CST