Since the gift card program started here at Whole Foods Market® we’ve been concerned about the impact our cards may have on the environment. In our last blog post on the topic we talked about our efforts to find a more environmentally sound substrate for our Whole Foods Market gift cards to be printed on. That was over two years ago. I think it’s time for an update on our progress! After moving from virgin plastic to 50% recycled plastic to 85% recycled plastic to 100% recycled plastic (Yeah!) I’m excited to announce that we’re stopping production of new cards on plastic altogether. Instead, our new cards are made with alternative substrates including recycled paper and wood from responsibly managed forests.
Our new paper cards are made with 50% post-consumer recycled and Forest Stewardship Council certified material. Some advantages of these paper cards are a reduced carbon footprint, they’re recyclable and compostable and they require less energy to produce the material. To close the gift card life-cycle loop, we accept spent and unusable gift cards at our stores for recycling. To date, our team members and customers kept more than a quarter-million gift cards out of landfills by recycling them. If stacked flat, this would be the equivalent of a sixty-one story building! This doesn’t include the many thousands of cards that are re-used by our stores again and again before being recycled. Our stores are also happy to recycle any plastic cards, even spent gift cards from other retailers. The way we see it, the more we can keep out of landfills the better!
We know that the new substrates of our paper and wood cards are not perfect. But we feel that we’re moving in the right direction as we continue to hunt for solutions that require fewer materials, have smaller carbon footprints and are easier to recycle. The new paper and wood cards are in stores now, but you’ll still see plastic gift cards in our stores too, as we deplete our current stock. In the mean time, you can feel good when you give a Whole Foods Market gift card knowing you are giving a special gift and considering the planet at the same time. What would you buy with a Whole Foods Market gift card?