New report exposes excess plastic packaging at Whole Foods

Media Contacts
Steve Blackledge

Senior Director, Conservation America Campaign, Environment America Research & Policy Center

Holly Thompson

Former Beyond Plastic, Associate, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Less than 50% of grocer’s in-house ‘365’ brand products available in plastic-free packaging

WASHINGTON – U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Environment America Research & Policy Center released a new report on Thursday that surveyed plastic packaging used on Whole Foods’ in-house 365 brand products. The report, entitled The Whole Foods’ Plastic Problem: A survey on single-use packaging at the grocery store, finds that despite the company’s efforts to reduce plastic use, less than 50% of the products surveyed were available in plastic-free packaging in the majority of Whole Foods stores.

“Plastic waste is clogging our landfills, littering our streets, polluting our parks and escaping into our rivers and oceans at a rate of 8 million tons a year. Plastic packaging, such as food wrappers, is the most commonly found trash polluting our beaches,” said Holly Thompson, U.S. PIRG Education Fund zero waste associate. “To reduce the effects of plastic pollution, corporations need to do their part to eliminate single-use plastic packaging. Our report demonstrates that many Whole Foods food items are needlessly packaged in plastic.”

The survey classified items in three categories: full plastic, partial plastic and plastic-free. Many of the products were packaged in unnecessary plastic: apples, for example, were in plastic bags in 18 stores. 

The report recommends that  to reduce its stores’ excess plastic waste, Whole Foods should take fairly simple steps, such as removing transparent plastic windows from chip bags and pasta boxes and removing plastic packaging from produce.

“Whole Foods, once a leader on reducing plastics, is falling short on protecting our planet and eliminating waste produced in its stores,” said Steve Blackledge, Environment America Research & Policy Center conservation campaign senior director. “For the sake of America’s waterways and the wild creatures that are choking on plastics, we urge Whole Foods to do much more to reduce unnecessary plastic packaging waste.”

Experts will discuss the report’s findings further and be available to answer questions at a live news conference Thursday afternoon in Washington:


  • Holly Thompson, Zero Waste Associate, U.S. PIRG Education Fund
  • Aidan Charron, End of Plastics and Canopy Project Coordinator,
  • Trey Sherard, Riverkeeper, Anacostia Riverkeeper 
  • Christy Leavitt, Plastics Campaign Director, Oceana  

WHEN: Thursday, March 2, 2023, at 1:00PM  ET

WHEREFoggy Bottom Whole Foods at 2201 I St NW, Washington, DC 20037