Waitrose launches £1m initiative to tackle plastic pollution

Waitrose & Partners has launched ‘Plan Plastic – The Million Pound Challenge’. The initiative will support projects designed to reduce the amount of unnecessary plastic used, and plastic waste, with a £1 million grant fund.

Funds will be awarded over one year to projects ‘that can demonstrate an impact on plastic pollution now and in the future’.

The retailer is partnering with environmental charity Hubbub to support the chosen projects and measure the impact of the grants.

The fund has been raised from the sale of 5p carrier bags and grants will range from £150,000 to £300,000.

Applications for Plan Plastic are open until February 24 and are welcome from organisations including charities, academic bodies, social enterprises, and schools and colleges. Organisations can apply via www.planplasticfund.com

An independent expert panel of representatives from academia, industry, non-governmental organisations, business and a senior Waitrose representative will convene in April to review submissions. The chosen grantees will be announced in May.

Tor Harris, head of CSR, health & agriculture for Waitrose & Partners, said: “We hope the fund will help find new and effective ways of accelerating action to rethink how we all use and dispose of plastic – now and in the future. We take this issue very seriously, and are making progress all the time, but we’re determined to maintain our momentum as well as supporting others to do the same.”

Hubbub ceo and founder Trewin Restorick added: “Waitrose’s new grant fund is tremendously exciting as it will support innovative thinking on how to combat the issue of plastic pollution. We’ll be on the lookout for entries that really demonstrate a tangible impact and that will have a longer-term legacy beyond the grant funding stage. We’d encourage any eligible organisation working in this space to apply via the website.”

The grocery multiple has already committed to removing all 5p plastic bags from its shops by March and will also replace loose fruit and vegetable bags with a home compostable alternative by Spring. Doing so will cut almost 134 million bags each year from the environment, which equates to 500 tonnes of plastic.

Waitrose & Partners has also pledged not to sell any own-label products in black plastic packaging beyond 2019 and has already hit its target to remove black plastic on its fresh meat, fish, poultry, fruit and vegetables. The retailer has committed to making all its own-label packaging widely recyclable, reusable or home compostable by 2023.

Total sales excluding fuel were 2.4% higher at Waitrose last week (to Saturday January 26) than last year.

The supermarket chain’s personnel director Jo Walmsley said: “Fresh categories continued to see strong demand, with sales of fresh fruit and vegetables up along with fresh meat, fish and seafood, which have also proved popular.

“Fresh convenience is another category that has continued to see significant increase in demand last week, including sushi and Food To Go products. Sales of free from products also rose.”

 Waitrose & Partners’ ‘Plan Plastic – The Million Pound Challenge’

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