The Whole Foods Plastic Problem: A Survey on Single-Use Packaging at the Grocery Store

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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.

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