The Whole Foods Plastic Problem

A survey on single-use packaging at the grocery store

Whole Foods can do more and do better to reduce single-use plastic packaging.

Staff | TPIN
Holly Thompson
Holly Thompson

Former Beyond Plastic, Associate, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Matt Casale

Former Director, Environment Campaigns, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Whole Foods has built its brand on a commitment to sustainability and environmentally responsible retail. Its customers shop at its stores because they share that commitment, and they expect the products on the shelves to reflect those values. One value those customers increasingly share is a desire to reduce the amount of plastic in their lives. But the reality is that Whole Foods is often making it harder, rather than easier, for them to do that. 

In 2022, U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Environment America Research & Policy Center conducted a survey of the packaging options of Whole Foods 365 brand products in 27 stores across the country to assess consumers’ options for avoiding plastic when shopping at Whole Foods. We found that despite the company’s efforts to reduce plastic use, customers have limited opportunities to purchase 365 brand items without plastic packaging, with fewer than 50% of the products surveyed available in plastic-free packaging in the majority of Whole Foods stores.

Whole Foods can do more and do better to reflect its customers’ values and re-establish itself as a leader in environmentally responsible retail.

Topics
Authors

Holly Thompson

Former Beyond Plastic, Associate, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Matt Casale

Former Director, Environment Campaigns, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Steve Blackledge

Senior Director, Conservation America Campaign, Environment America Research & Policy Center

Started on staff: 1991 B.A., Wartburg College Steve directs Environment America’s efforts to protect our public lands and waters and the species that depend on them. He led our successful campaign to win full and permanent funding for our nation’s best conservation and recreation program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund. He previously oversaw U.S. PIRG’s public health campaigns. Steve lives in Sacramento, California, with his family, where he enjoys biking and exploring Northern California.

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