Waitrose plastic bottle bags

The bags are part of Waitrose’s sustainability drive

Waitrose is launching a range of reusable shopping bags made from recycled plastic bottles on 20 June.

The upmarket retailer is introducing the reusable bags, supplied by Jutexpo, as part of its sustainability drive. The range will fund donations to the Prince’s Countryside Fund with 10p of the price being gifted to the charity.

Each jute bag is created using the material from seven plastic bottles through a process that turns the plastic into durable and practical fabric polyethylene terephthalate.

Designed by Emma Bridgewater, the two wipe-clean bags and four fold-away pouch bags feature polka dot patterns and are available in purple and cream and lilac. The large bags will cost £5 while the pouches will be £4.

Waitrose is aiming to turn half a million plastic bottles into shopping bags through the initiative.

The supermarket is also expecting more of its reusable shopping bags to be created solely from plastic bottles or other recycled materials in the future.

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“Waitrose is continually looking for innovative ways to cut plastic waste and we realise this is just as important to our shoppers, who are extremely interested in tackling these pressing environmental challenges too,” said Karen Stenton, Waitrose buyer. “Reusable jute bags are extremely popular with our customers, and the fact this bag uses recycled material will make it even more appealing to them. It means they are not only being kind to the environment by purchasing a reusable bag, but are also contributing to the reduction of plastic in the environment while supporting a worthwhile charity with their purchase.”

Sam Turner, compliance director at Jutexpo, said: “This project takes the plastic from bottles and gives it another useful purpose after its life as a bottle has ended. Waitrose was Jutexpo’s first ever customer when we began producing and supplying reusable bags 15 years ago, and the relationship we have with them has been key to understanding the issues around plastic bottles and the ways in which they can be repurposed in a meaningful way.”

Bridgewater added that recent campaigns have shown “how vital it is that we all help to manage this situation responsibly to make sure our environment is not negatively impacted”.

The range of bags forms part of Waitrose’s continued initiatives to become more environmentally friendly. These include the removal of disposable coffee cups; its pledge not to sell any own-label food in black plastic beyond 2019; commitment to make all own-label packaging widely recyclable, reusable, or home compostable by 2025; and the replacement of plastic straws with paper versions in its cafés.