Waitrose first to reintroduce carrier bag recycling scheme for online deliveries

Waitrose.com customers can now recycle their carrier bags via their delivery driver after the retailer temporarily paused the service during the pandemic.

The supermarket’s decision to bring back the scheme has also been reinforced by new OnePoll research from Waitrose, which shows that reducing plastic is still at the forefront of people’s minds and still takes precedence over other areas of sustainability. While 25 per cent of people said Covid-19 made them less concerned about their plastic usage, more than half (54 per cent) said they’d still like supermarkets to make plastic reduction their main priority. This was followed by committing to high levels of animal welfare, reducing food waste, and pledging to reduce global deforestation.

This recycling service will be available in all the areas Waitrose.com covers, which is nearly 90% of UK postcodes. The retailer delivers to homes via its network of shops around the country,  and two (to be three at the end of 2020) online fulfilment centres in London.

Customers using this service will be asked to leave the carrier bags outside of their homes so that drivers can collect them whilst maintaining social distancing. They will then be stored in a dedicated area within the van and all hygiene measures will continue to be adhered to between all deliveries.

Although there has been an understandable increase in the use of single-use plastics throughout Covid-19, such as through wearing face masks and using plastic carrier bags, Waitrose remains committed to reducing unnecessary single-use plastic wherever possible. Through restarting the recycling of carrier bags, this will contribute towards the retailer’s commitment to making all own-brand packaging reusable, widely recyclable or home compostable by 2023.

George Leicester-Thackara, Head of Corporate Responsibility at the John Lewis Partnership, says: “During lockdown, we temporarily stopped recycling bags for online deliveries to keep our drivers and customers safe. As a result of customer demand and our ability to ensure the safety of our customers and Partners, we have taken the decision to build on the momentum we had prior to the pandemic and continue to reduce the use of plastics, which remains a priority for us and many of our customers.”

In addition to recycling their carrier bags, Waitrose.com shoppers will again be able to return parcels they’ve received from johnlewis.com for their delivery driver to process at the customer’s doorstep, once their online grocery delivery has been made.

Waitrose.com has been significantly expanding in preparation for being the only place for customers to buy Waitrose products online from September. Since the start of Covid-19, Waitrose has added more than 100,000 customer order slots each week to its online delivery service (now around 160,000 slots each week) and has committed at least 25% of Waitrose.com slots to vulnerable and elderly customers, including those on the government lists.

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