At one point, grocer 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 adopt a comprehensive policy to reduce its plastic footprint — 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.
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 plastic 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.