The people spoke, and Trader Joe’s listened, promising to use less plastic and Styrofoam in packaging. Also: goodbye plastic bags

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Tucked inside Trader Joe‘s February 2019 edition of the Fearless Flyer, among the new items and seasonal promotions, was a “not-so confidential memo” to customers.

The grocery chain announced it will be taking more steps to reduce plastic and other packaging waste. As people become more conscious about reducing their plastic consumption, Trader Joe’s has been facing mounting criticism for an “overuse of packaging,” especially in the produce section.

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The retailer said it’s been listening to customers’ feedback on the issue, and, in response, has stopped offering single-use plastic carryout bags in stores nationwide (already banned in all large stores in California). In addition to that, Trader Joe’s said it has replaced plastic produce bags with biodegradable and compostable options, which we’ve noticed recently at San Francisco and Oakland stores.

The store adds they’ve also replaced Styrofoam trays that used to be used in produce packaging with compostable trays.

Other changes Trader Joe’s is phasing in include:

  • Selling more produce as loose items, instead of bagged in plastic
  • Eliminating plastic sleeves on greeting cards, replacing them with a compostable material
  • Eliminating plastic wrappers for flower bouquets, replacing them with a renewable material

Since China drastically cut the amount of American recycling waste it purchases, there has been an added emphasis on the “reduce” part of “reduce, reuse, recycle” when it comes to plastic. Much of the world’s plastic waste never ends up getting recycled, instead finding its way to landfills or the ocean. San Francisco’s “Zero Waste” initiative leads the country in this regard — the city diverts more than 80 percent of its waste away from landfills.

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Outside of the produce section, Trader Joe’s didn’t give any specifics about if or how they might reduce other types of packaging waste.

“As we fulfill these steps in 2019, on an annual basis, we are eliminating more than 1 million pounds of plastic from our stores,” reads the Trader Joe’s flyer. “Thank you; we’re listening.”