Private Brands Lead Sustainability at Whole Foods

Whole Foods Market today announced it has implemented new responsible packaging guidelines for all of its more than 2,100 body care and supplement suppliers companywide and, to spearhead the change, has switched to post-consumer recycled (PCR) content bottles for several of its store-brand supplements and body care products.

“We’re thrilled by how responsive our vendors have been in making changes to provide even more green options for our customers,” said Jeremiah McElwee, global Whole Body coordinator for Whole Foods Market. “More exciting still is that through the development process, Whole Foods Market has created a forum for vendors to share best practices, helping the whole industry move forward with our environment top of mind.”

Beginning in the summer of 2008, McElwee and his team worked with 25 of Whole Foods Market’s largest personal care product suppliers to develop the new guidelines, which became effective Sept. 1, 2009. The guidelines mandate that suppliers reduce the use of plastic in product packaging, encourage the switch to glass when possible, limit acceptable packaging materials to those that are easily reused or recycled, and/or feature the highest percentage of PCR content. Suppliers were given one year to transition to more eco-friendly packaging.

All new body care and supplement suppliers must meet the packaging guidelines before their products can be sold in one of the company’s more than 300 locations in the US, Canada and the U.K.

“At Whole Foods Market, we’re committed to reducing, reusing and recycling waste on all levels of business, and we’re thrilled to be leading the green packaging charge with our store-brand products,” said McElwee. “We knew that PCR-content bottles were the way to go. They require less energy and water to produce and generate far fewer greenhouse gases, while diverting reusable materials out of the landfill and reducing reliance on virgin plastics.”

While the switch to PCR bottles began last Sept., the company expects to switch all of its Private Brand Whole Body products, which now use amber plastic PET No. 1 bottles, to PCR packaging by late 2010. The new bottles bear a leaf symbol indicating that they are made from 100 percent PCR plastic.



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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.