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Consumer group calls out Whole Foods for use of plastic in packaging

A Washington consumer group called out Whole Foods for its packaging practices during a media conference Thursday morning.

The Washington Public Interest Research Group (WashPIRG) highlighted a report on plastics being used by the grocery chain.

WashPIRG says that Whole Foods has a plastic problem, something the chain - now owned by Seattle-based Amazon - disagrees with, according to various statements online highlighting its achievements when it comes to sustainability and limiting plastics.

WashPIRG says the survey focused on Whole Foods 365 brand products, which are essentially the company’s own brand.

It found that even with efforts to push out plastic, customers had limited options to buy 365 brands without plastic packaging. It also found that fewer than 50% of surveyed products had plastic-free packaging.

Dax Tate, the Zero Waste Campaign coordinator for WashPIRG, says the 365 brand was a focus for a specific reason.

“Not all grocery stores can control what products are being sold in what packaging but their 365 everyday value brand is their own in-house brand so we believe they can make significant changes to the packaging,” Tate said.

He did give credit to Whole Foods for its earlier efforts but believes if the company did more it could have a ripple effect.

“If Whole Foods could take a stand on this we believe that could be a model for other grocery stores,” Tate said.

On its website, the grocery chain makes a general attempt to assert what it is doing to reduce the use of plastics.

The chain touts its status as the first US grocery to ban plastic bags and straws while moving to 100% recycled paper bags.

The company also claimed that it has tried to reduce single-use plastics in its prepared foods department and reduced the size of its plastic produce bags.

WashPIRG hasn’t just singled out Whole Foods. In recent months the group has called on Issaquah-based Costco and food delivery service Sysco to reduce and eliminate much of the plastic packaging the companies use.

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