July 17, 2019 Update:
Trader Joe's has been making some serious strides in reducing plastic waste in the last few months since their original announcement—so much so that their goal of eliminating one million pounds of plastic in 2019 has already turned into 4 million annually!
"As we continue in this endeavor, we are diligent in our attempt to balance the priority to maintain product quality and minimize food waste, protect the product from contamination, and reduce the amount of packaging," said a Trader Joe's press release.
The company also shared their recent achievements in reducing plastic waste use in 2019, listed below:
- Replacing all Styrofoam trays in their fresh meat section with PET1 trays that are highly recyclable.
- Replacing the current plastic sleeves on their greeting cards with sleeves made of renewable, compostable material. Look for the updated sleeves starting in August!
- Replacing the current plastic flower bags with bags made of compostable material. Look for the new flower bags in stores around September!
- Eliminating plastic and foil pouches from their tea packages, and replacing them with compostable film where necessary. They expect the updated packaging in our stores this November.
- Removing excess packaging in their Deli, Frozen, Fresh, and Grocery items by optimizing the packaging size and eliminating unnecessary material.
- Eliminating or replacing packaging for 20 + produce items, resulting in the removal of over 2.5 million lbs. of plastic annually in the produce section.
"We are continuing to work with our partners in a product-by-product evaluation of packaging in order to identify even more opportunities for improvement," the press release said. "As we proceed to advance the sustainability of our packaging, we remain committed to listening to our customers and finding innovative ways to address related challenges. We will continue to openly share information about our progress."
The original article, published Monday, March 4, 2019, continues below:
Trader Joe’s is one of our favorite grocery stores—they have delicious snacks, super-cute greeting cards, cheap flowers, and nutritionist-approved frozen foods. What’s not to love? Well, there is one thing we’re not crazy about: TJ’s tends to use plastic for every little thing (like my favorite frozen garlic cubes), and especially in the produce section.
But, environmentally conscious shoppers have been asking the store to change their ways, and they have listened. In their February Fearless Flyer issue, the grocery retailer announced major plans to reduce their plastic waste.
“Taking into consideration our customer feedback and our desire to be great neighbors, we have been taking a careful look at our packaging and the opportunities that exist to make improvements, with respect to sustainability,” the company said in a statement on their website.
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Here are some ways the store is already being more sustainable, according to their website:
- They’ve stopped offering single-use plastic carryout bags in all stores.
- They’ve replaced plastic produce bags with biodegradable and compostable produce bags.
- They’ve eliminated Styrofoam packages in their produce section and replaced them with bio-based, compostable trays.
- They’re avoiding Bisphenol A (BPA) & Bisphenol S (BPS); Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPEs); Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS); Polystyrene (PS); Styrene; and Phthalates in all of their packaging.
Additionally, here’s what you can expect from Trader Joe’s in the future:
- They plan to reduce the number of items sold in plastic packages in their produce section, including apple, pear and potato bags.
- They’ll replace Styrofoam trays with recyclable PET1 trays.
- They’ll replace plastic sleeves on greeting cards with sleeves made of a renewable, compostable material.
- They’ll also replace plastic flower bags with bags made of a renewable material.
- They plan to eliminate non-recyclable plastic and foil pouches from tea packages.
We think this is a great move for Trader Joe’s (and, you know, for our environment.) If you have questions about what materials are used in packaging, or how to recycle items you’ve purchased from TJ’s, check out this section on their website for helpful tips.