Waitrose has established a £1m grant fund, raised through 5p carrier bag sales, for organisations pursuing projects designed to reduce unnecessary plastic waste and pollution. Styled as “Plan Plastic – The Million Pound Challenge”, the fund will award grants ranging from £150,000 to £300,000 to initiatives chosen by an independent panel of representatives from NGOs and businesses in April.
Particular focus will be placed on schemes encouraging plastic recycling in communities, environmental education, initiatives looking to change shopping habits, agricultural projects and research into micro plastics. The retailer has also partnered with sustainability charity Hubbub to support the chosen projects and measure the impact of its grants.
Similarly Morrisons has today introduced a trial run of 20p paper carrier bags as packing alternatives to plastic in eight of its stores. The provisional US-style grocery bags, which are said to be completely recyclable, are a response to findings that cutting down on plastic is the chief environmental concern among Morrisons customers.
The retailer has also increased the price of standard plastic carrier bags from 10p to 15p in an effort to discourage further waste.
In September, Waitrose pledged to remove all 5p plastic bags from its shops and to replace all loose fruit and vegetable bags with a home-compostable alternative by this Spring. This is set to cut almost 134 million bags each year, which equates to 500 tonnes of plastic.
In addition, the retailer has committed to phasing out black plastic packaging on its own-label products beyond 2019, and to make all own-label packaging recyclable, reusable or home-compostable by 2023.