We are calling on Whole Foods Market to Move Beyond Plastic by committing to concrete steps that eliminate single-use plastic packaging from its stores.

Plastic waste is clogging our landfills, littering our streets, polluting our parks, and escaping into our rivers and oceans at a rate of 8 million tons a year. Plastic packaging, such as plastic food wrappers, topped the list of most commonly found items of trash polluting our beaches.

Whole Foods has led on plastics in the past when it became the first U.S. grocer to eliminate plastic bags at checkout. But the company has started to lag behind competitors and recently got an F in a report by As You Sow for failing to tackle plastic pollution. Whole Foods customers care about their health and don’t want to contribute to a legacy of plastic pollution when they shop, and we know they want Whole Foods to eliminate single-use plastic packaging items from their stores.

Whole Foods scored poorly in As You Sow's report, "Waste and Opportunity 2020."
As You Sow

Every day, people throw away tons of plastic “stuff” — cups, plates, bags, containers, forks, knives, straws, spoons and more. All of this waste not only clogs our landfills, trashes our parks, and litters our streets, but it also washes into our rivers and oceans, where it can pollute our environment for hundreds of years

Humans are currently on pace to put more than 58 million tons of plastic into oceans, rivers and lakes each year by 2030. One of the worst forms of plastic pollution is single-use plastic packaging — items that are used only once and then pollute our environment for hundreds of years. Plastic food wrappers are the most common item of trash found on our beaches, according to Ocean Conservancy.

Plastic fragments have been found in 44% of all seabird species.
NOAA
It's time to take plastic packaging off store shelves

Single-use plastic packaging is a glaring example of a culture that prioritizes a moment’s convenience over the health of our planet and our communities. It’s time for us to move beyond single-use plastic by getting rid of the most harmful waste and stopping the use of things we truly don’t need.

Companies, such as supermarket chains, have an important role to play in the reduction of plastic trash. But while some companies have made efforts to eliminate unnecessary plastics, such as grocery bags and straws, the industry has generally lagged behind on tackling packaging.

Whole Foods can step up in the fight against plastic pollution by eliminating it from its stores.
Staff
Whole Foods can take the lead

At one point, Whole Foods was a prominent exception, becoming the first U.S. grocer to eliminate plastic bags at checkout in 2008, and removing plastic straws in its stores in 2019. It was an industry leader — and leaders are important because they set an example that others can follow.

But while shoppers have come to expect sustainable practices from Whole Foods, the company has recently fallen behind when it comes to tackling plastic waste, according to a 2020 report released by As You Sow.

The As You Sow report gave Whole Foods an F for its failure to embrace reusable packaging and recycled content, and for its lack of transparency and support for recycling and waste reduction systems — putting it behind other stores, such as Walmart and Kroger. Without a comprehensive plan to eliminate single-use plastics from its shelves, we believe Whole Foods is not living up to its reputation as a sustainable, environmentally conscious company. In order to turn the tide on plastic pollution, we need companies like Whole Foods to take the lead by redesigning the packaging they use.

Our ecosystem can't wait

That’s why we are calling on Whole Foods to eliminate all single-use plastic packaging from its operations. Whole Foods can once again be a leader in the national market. Smaller, regional grocers like Giant Eagle have already committed to eliminating single-use plastics by 2025. Now, we need a nationwide grocer to make a similarly bold commitment to reduce its plastic footprint and shift the industry away from this wasteful and damaging source of plastic pollution.

Many Whole Foods customers choose the store because they believe shopping there is healthier for them and for the planet. Many are also aware of the damage that plastic pollution wreaks on our communities and on our environment. Plastic packaging, which pollutes for hundreds of years, is not on their shopping list. That’s why we know shoppers want Whole Foods to “move beyond plastic” by eliminating single-use plastic packaging items from its stores. If Whole Foods customers speak out and demand change, we know Whole Foods can deliver.