CALPIRG, Environment California and 130+ other groups send letter to Whole Foods Market calling on company to put “Planet Over Plastic”

Media Contacts
Claudia Deeg

This is the second letter to the retail chain, which continues to fail in reducing its plastic footprint

CALPIRG Education Fund, Environment California Research & Policy Center

OAKLAND, Calif. — Environment California Research & Policy Center, CALPIRG Education Fund and more than 130 additional groups from coast-to-coast sent Whole Foods CEO John Mackey a letter Thursday calling on him to commit to a concrete and verifiable plan to reduce the company’s plastic footprint. This letter comes on the heels of a Greenpeace report released last week that found that the chain was failing on its policies and practices aimed at eliminating plastic waste.

“To protect our wildlife, companies like Whole Foods, who are responsible for this source of plastic pollution, must act to put the planet over plastic by committing to a bold path forward on reducing plastic waste,” said Lizzi Nickerson, Environment California Research & Policy Center Associate. “The rising tide of plastic entering our rivers and oceans each year can harm and kill turtles, seabirds and fish. This plastic is a clear example of a culture that prioritizes a moment’s convenience over the long term health of our planet and we clearly must change.”

Specifically, the letter says that the company needs to commit to steps that eliminate single-use plastic packaging from its stores by Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting in May 2021. These steps include: A 25 percent reduction in the amount of single-use plastic packaging units sold by the 365 Everyday Value product line by 2025; a commitment to generate 15 percent of annual revenues from the sale of products packaged in reusable packaging by 2025; and a public report on the company’s plastic footprint by 2022. Other groups who signed onto the letter include Greenpeace USA, Oceana and The Plastic Pollution Coalition and 19 other groups from California.

According to Greenpeace’s report, which ranked 20 U.S. grocery chains, Whole Foods scored 15 out of a possible 100 points, placing it in 10th for its efforts to tackle the plastic pollution crisis. Notably, the market not only failed to release a bold and comprehensive policy on plastic waste, but also failed to disclose information on the company’s overall plastic footprint. For these reasons, such other supermarkets as Walmart, Aldi and Krogers performed better than Whole Foods in the report.

“Nothing we use for just a few minutes should pollute our planet for hundreds of years,” said Claudia Deeg, Zero Waste Associate for the CALPIRG Education Fund. “In order to protect our environment and the health of communities from plastic pollution, we must hold the companies that package their products in single-use plastic responsible. We know that better alternatives to single-use plastic packaging exist, and Whole Foods, along with other companies like it, need to transition to more sustainable forms of packaging.”

Studies show that 15 million metric tons of plastic litter enter our oceans each year. This is the equivalent of two garbage trucks dumping a load of plastic into the sea every single minute and it’s devastating for wildlife because  birds, fish and other species, like turtles, can so easily mistake small pieces of plastic for food. Nearly 700 types of marine animals, as well as more than 50 freshwater species, have ingested plastic or become entangled in it, often with deadly results.

“Young people and student activists expect the companies they support to reflect their values,” said UCLA senior and CALPIRG Students State Board Chair Nic Riani. “For too long Whole Foods has not taken responsibility for the single-use plastic pollution they’re creating and this is the moment to act. The next generation of Whole Foods’ shoppers are looking to the company to step up in the fight against plastic pollution.”

In addition to the coalition letter, Environment California Research and Policy Center, CALPIRG  Education Fund and several other groups in the coalition have gathered tens of thousands of petitions, hosted public events with more than 200 attendees, and held other public communication events. The group aims to convince shareholders to take action on plastic packaging in Amazon’s upcoming shareholder meeting. 



Environment California Research & Policy Center and CALPIRG Education Fund are part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to getting things done.