Waitrose steps up green innovations

Waitrose is to increase its bulk wine shipping and bring in more lightweight packaging after appointing a new head of sustainability and ethical sourcing.

Quentin Clark’s remit will include driving the wine department’s corporate social responsibility image when he takes up the position in June.

Clark joined Waitrose in 1987 and has been senior buyer for poultry, fish and eggs since 2004.

Wine buyer Nick Room described environmentally friendly bottling and transportation as “an important strand of Waitrose’s activity” in the coming months. “We’re taking more of an interest – it’s very important,” he said. “We’re working with suppliers and making sure we promote our environmental credentials.”

Room hailed Waitrose’s first foray into bulk importing a success, with sales of its Virtue range “doing very well”.

The retailer launched the two Chilean Virtue wines a year ago in a bid to reduce carbon emissions by 47 tons a year and production costs by up to 40%. The wines are imported by sea in 24,000-litre recyclable tanks to Teesport in north east England for bottling in 60% recycled glass.

The supermarket has now expanded the range to include wines from South Australia and California.

Room added that Waitrose is planning further packaging innovations, aiming to reduce its impact on the environment, despite some consumer mistrust of alternative packaging formats.

“It’s not been easy with pouches, the customer hasn’t really got behind them but they fulfil a role. We’ll also keep PET under investigation,” he said.

The retailer is introducing South African Shiraz and Chenin Blanc in screw-top plastic bottles with an rrp of £5.49.

The wines will be available online and in 13 stores close to festivals and outdoor events, such as Henley and Glastonbury.

“Wine drinkers can be quite precious about compromising on taste and quality.

“It is something we have been very careful to ensure doesn’t happen with the new plastic packaging,” Room said.