Customers love Trader Joe's for the company's innovative products and affordable prices.
All that plastic encasing cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes and cherries? Not so much.
As of Tuesday, more than 91,000 people have signed a Change.org petition urging the Southern California-based chain to reduce its plastic packaging.
"Trader Joe's, I love your avocados but what are they doing in non-recyclable plastic netting? Seriously," wrote one customer.
The petition was launched by Elsa Clements of Beaverton, Ore., who said she has challenged other companies to reduce their use of plastic.
"Trader Joe's is great about encouraging people to bring their bags and buy organic, but they get an "F" on their packaging," the petition reads. "I would like to see TJ's take a bigger stand on sustainability and reduce their plastic impact. With only 12 years left to stop climate change, corporations like you need to lead consumers in making earth-conscious choices."
Her suggestions: "Start by eliminating plastic packaging on your produce. Offer produce in bulk like other grocery stores, and choose cardboard, glass and metal over plastic packaging."
In a press release on its website, Trader Joe's announced it has already made progress on its goals to reduce plastic packaging. The stores already have replaced plastic produce bags with biodegradable and compostable produce bags; eliminated Styrofoam produce packages in favor of bio-based, compostable trays; and added a website FAQ on recycling and composting.
In the works now, the company says, are programs to reduce the number of items sold in plastic packages in the produce department; replace Styrofoam trays in the fresh meat section; swap out the plastic sleeves on greeting cards with sleeves made of a renewable, compostable material; and replace the current plastic flower bags with bags made of a renewable material.
Customers who signed the petition had concerns that went beyond fresh produce.
"We regularly shop at Trader Joe's and don't understand why the pomegranate white tea (branded Trader Joe's) individually wraps each tea bag in plastic inside the box?!! Please stop thank you." wrote a Marin County, Calif. customer.
That's a goal too, Trader Joe's says, with plans for "eliminating non-recyclable plastic and foil pouches from our tea packages."
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