We are committed to minimizing waste at all stages of the supply chain, food production and sending zero waste to landfill from our shops.
The Pret Charity Run operates a fleet of LPG vans that deliver over 12,000 fresh meals to numerous shelters for the homeless in London every week. Many charities across the UK collect directly from our shops at the end of each day too. In total, Pret donates about 2.5 million products to charities for the homeless across the UK every year with the added benefit of ensuring our fresh natural food goes to the homeless at the end of the day and not to landfill. In fact, this prevents up to 250 tonnes of food from ending up in landfill.
Tragically a few of our shops have no regular charities willing to collect our fresh, natural food at the end of each day. If you run a charity in need of good food, let us know we may be able to help. Call Giovanna Pasini on 020 7932 5425.
Our goal is to avoid landfill at all costs; we know it's bad for the environment, that they are filling up fast and that they are becoming increasingly expensive. Getting our recycling scheme bedded in is essential. We've rolled out front and back of house recycling and we have been composting our organic waste for a number of years now.
Many customers want a bag and a handful of napkins each visit, but if you don't, then please tell us (We won't mind, in fact, we'll thank you). In 2009, we reduced the number of plastic bags we used by 28% simply by asking our customers if they actually wanted one, and in 2012 we finally got rid of the plastic bag altogether replacing them with paper bags from sustainably managed sources. We continue to train our Team Members to ask if you want a bag and to follow the one napkin per item purchased guideline.
We are committed to using packaging that is as sustainable as possible. All our packaging must fulfil the following criteria: be made from accredited sustainable sources, or from recycled material and be fully recyclable. It's worth bearing in mind that being 'fully recyclable' very much depends on the facilities that are available in your area. Unfortunately this varies hugely across the country, what one local authority is prepared to recycle will be very different to another.
Our sandwich 'bio-box' is fully recyclable and we were the first retailer to move from plastic sandwich boxes to cardboard in the 1990s.
We removed our range of biodegradable PLA (cornstarch) Pret Pots way back in 2007. Biodegradable and compostable packaging is no doubt the best way forward but until the UK provides adequate composting sites and collection services, PLA packaging is an impractical solution. Most PLA packaging ends up in landfill never properly degrading and if PLA gets in the plastic recycling stream it acts as a contaminant. For now, we'll keep using our recyclable plastic pots.
We work with all our suppliers to reduce ingredient packaging wherever we can and over the last few years have reduced the materials used across a number of key packaging items. A few examples: redesigning our baguette bags reduced the material used by 8.27 tonnes a year, and redesigning our Pure Pret bottles saved 28,000kg of plastic. In 2010 we made a 12% reduction in the amount of plastic used in our Pret Still range. In 2011 we removed the lids on some of our fruit pot products, and by doing so saved 2.8 tonnes of plastic.
Our recycling scheme is very successful, and now the vast majority of Pret shops have recycling facilities, as well as being able to compost their organic waste.
After several prototypes, numerous setbacks and no end of testing, we have finally launched recycling facilities in most Pret shops. It's been far from easy but, fingers crossed, we think we've cracked it. We've introduced 'co-mingled' recycling. This means all of our product packaging can be placed in a single bin ready for sorting later at the recycling plant. We only need to separate food from the rest of the packaging, this keeps it simple and ensures we can divert as much as possible from landfill.
Since we launched recycling back in 2008 we have steadily been improving our diversion rates month-on-month. In London* we are diverting 100% of our waste from landfill . In the regional shops we are currently diverting approximately 70% from landfill, and in managed estate units we divert around 80% from landfill. We do this by utilising a combination of recycling facilities, refuse derived fuel facilities and composting. There are challenges to finding appropriate composting or refuse derived fuel facilities outside of London, but we are working on it!!
Believe it or not, 80% of Pret food (and packaging) is taken away by our customers. We want to encourage recycling outside of Pret too and welcome the office-based recycling scheme operated by Closed Loop London (www.closedlooplondon.co.uk) which encourages customers to recycle in their workplace (where many eat their lunch).
For now, if you 'take away' from Pret, and depending on facilities in your area, you can easily recycle the majority of Pret packaging yourself. Here are a few points to help you...
Keep the packaging as clean as possible.
Rinse the packaging if need be.
If your waste collector does not operate co-mingled recycling separate the materials as directed.
The website www.recycle-more.co.uk might help
*non managed estate shops only (that’s over 120 units)