Eco News

Austin-based Whole Foods Market gets an F for wasteful plastic

Austin-based Whole Foods Market gets an F for wasteful plastic

Austin Photo Set_News_Whole Foods Bee Cave_Grand Opening_May 2012
Whole Foods Market shelves can sometimes feel like a sea of plastic. Veronica Castelo

Environmental groups have launched a campaign urging Austin-based Whole Foods Market to clean up its act.

Environment Texas Research & Policy Center, TexPIRG Education Fund, and other nonprofits are calling on Whole Foods to change its practices on plastic packaging after the chain got an "F" for its policies on single-use plastic packaging from As You Sow, an environmental nonprofit.

They're joining national groups, such as the Plastic Pollution Coalition, who are trying to persuade Whole Foods to cut down on single-use packaging.

Anna Farrell-Sherman from the Environment Texas Research & Policy Center says in a statement that Whole Foods' excessive use of plastic is a surprise, given the chain's reputation, stating, "We expect better from a supermarket known for its environmental vision."

As You Sow's report studied 50 companies and found that Whole Foods performed far worse than other large chains including Walmart, Target, and Kroger in its efforts to eliminate plastic.

Bullet points include:

  • Whole Foods hasn't adopted an overall goal to reduce company-wide packaging.
  • Whole Foods fails on transparency. The company has not reported anything on its plastic footprint such as tonnage or volume of packaging materials, units of plastic packaging, or percentage of sales that use reusable packaging.

"As a company with a reputation for selling food that is good for people and the planet, Whole Foods can make a big dent in reducing plastic pollution," says Alex Truelove, Zero Waste Campaign Director for U.S. PIRG. "Whole Foods Market once led the industry, as the first U.S. grocer to eliminate plastic grocery bags at checkout in 2008. It’s time they lead again."

The groups are trying to forestall what is an increasingly threatening situation on plastic waste. Each year, 8 million tons of plastic enters our oceans, which they equate to a garbage truck dumping a load of plastic waste into the sea every minute. Nearly 700 species of marine animals have ingested plastic and that works its way up the food chain.