British grocer Waitrose will accelerate efforts to eliminate out single-use plastic by ending the use of multibuy shrink-wrap on millions of private brand canned grocery products.

The plastic wrap, which is used to keep three or four cans attached for convenience but can’t always be recycled, will now be removed permanently on all Waitrose tinned food. Waitrose was the first UK retailer to trial the removal of shrink-wrap on tinned multibuys last year.

Removing the shrink-wrap on some of the best-selling everyday essentials – including baked beans, kidney beans, sweetcorn, chopped and plum tomatoes, and tuna – means a significant reduction in single-use plastic, saving over 45 tons a year.

The pandemic has prompted record sales of tinned food as a shift in shopping behavior led customers to do larger shops and stocking up on store cupboard staples and multibuys. Sales of canned food remains strong with many products currently up by 50% compared to last year.

The plastic has already been removed from cans of essential Waitrose kidney beans and sweetcorn with others following in the next few months. The vast majority of multibuy cans will now be available loose, with the exception of tuna and tomatoes, which will move to a card sleeve that can be recycled. Last year’s trial highlighted that customers still prefer the convenience of buying certain canned foods together.

Claire Mitchell, Canned Food Buyer, Waitrose & Partners

Claire Mitchell, Canned Food Buyer, Waitrose & Partners, said: “Our essential Waitrose tinned food has been selling in record numbers since March and we want to ensure that we can continue to give customers the best quality and value, without passing on the plastic on such popular products.

Our customers expect us to keep tackling plastic, which includes eliminating single-use shrink-wrap on our multibuys. This is a significant step towards our plan to phase out non-recyclable plastic from all our packaging by 2021.”

Waitrose has also removed the multibuy plastic on essential Waitrose tissues. This additional move to eliminate single-use plastic will save a further 4.49 tons a year.
The essential Waitrose range offers great value and quality. The products are responsibly sourced, farmed using sustainable methods, and made from quality ingredients by trusted suppliers.  All essential Waitrose canned tuna is MSC Pole & Line caught and essential Waitrose tinned tomatoes are hand-checked for quality and canned within 24 hours to lock in the very best flavor.