Trader Joe’s Finds An Eco-Friendly Way To Reduce Your Prices

Major American grocery store chain Trader Joe’s has demonstrated that when companies reduce their use of plastic, they save money. And in this case, Trader Joe’s passed those savings to their customers in the form of lower prices.

Single-use plastics are devastating our environment and contaminating the food chain. In fact, the furor against plastic has been so strong that grocery stores in the United Kingdom are experimenting with plastic-free shopping to great success.

Earlier this summer, Trader Joe’s jumped on the bandwagon by reducing its own use of plastics, including on items such a French bread, garlic and fruits and vegetables.

And prices of these products are going down.

According to Return To Now:

That’s because the costs of making the plastic sleeve, bundling the garlic together, and then topping the bag off with a paper header, have all been eliminated, Trader Joe’s produce manager Jack Salamon explained.

The company is also replacing plastic baguette bags with “highly recyclable” paper bags, and styrofoam meat packaging with recyclable plastic.

“We are on track to eliminate 4 million pounds of plastic from our stores in 2019 and 2½ million pounds of that plastic has come directly out of the produce section,” said Salamon.

Indeed, in a recent announcement on their website, Trader Joe’s proudly informed everyone that it has reduced plastic use by over 1 million pounds.

We are excited to share that since announcing our plan to eliminate more than 1 million pounds of plastic from our stores in 2019, we have made substantial progress in our efforts. Currently, we have identified and are in the process of implementing packaging changes that will remove a total of nearly 4 million pounds of plastic, annually.

After identifying more plastic reductions from other products beyond produce, the company refreshingly admitted their own struggles to eliminate it, but assured customers that they are working hard and asked for patience while they figure everything out.

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. Identifying a solution that meets all three components is complex and can be challenging. Take, for example, our English Cucumbers, a product that we hear about from our customers because it is wrapped in plastic. Responding to these concerns, we tested removing the plastic wrap earlier in the year. Almost immediately, we experienced a spike in the spoilage of these thin-skinned cucumbers. Removing the plastic wrap reduced the shelf life of the cucumbers from 10-14 days to a few days. The outcome of our test was not tolerable from a food-waste perspective, so we are in pursuit of alternatives. While we may not always arrive at the right solution the first time, we remain steadfast in our dedication to this important work.

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. 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.

Again, it’s nice to see a company exercising transparency and it’s even better to see a company listening to their customers, especially since the United States government refuses to act to reduce our plastic problem. If every store in America adopted Trader Joe’s policies, everyone could see lower prices and help the environment at the same time. It’s a win-win.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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