Trader Joe’s criticized for overuse of single-use plastic packaging


Inside Trader Joes, Union Square / Creative Commons License

Anais Denuccio, Contributor

Trader Joe’s, the beloved grocery store for New Yorkers, has recently come under fire for their overuse of single-use plastics in their packaging. Trader Joe’s has developed a loyal following due to its unique products, affordable prices and quirky branding, and has gained a strong reputation among its consumer base for its customer service.

The company has several stores throughout the city, most notably nine in the borough of Manhattan, making it easily accessible to many residents. It is also an accessible option for students looking for affordable and convenient grocery shopping, as well as a unique and enjoyable shopping experience.

Single-use plastics are significantly harmful to the environment due to the amount of time it takes for them to break down. The majority of single-use plastics are only able to be used once, hence the name, and then are discarded. Those who are trying to be environmentally conscious try to reduce their use of plastic whenever possible to ensure sustainability.

In March 2021, The Counter renounced Trader Joe’s for its packaging practices, noting that many of the store’s products were heavily packaged in plastic, despite the company’s efforts to reduce plastic usage in other areas.

An article published in the Mountain View Voice stated that while all grocery stores are responsible for reducing excessive single-use plastic packaging, “it is visible stepping into the produce section at Trader Joe’s that there is a particularly egregious amount of single-use plastic packaging for produce.” Shoppers have expressed concern about the amount of plastic waste generated by Trader Joe’s, highlighting that the majority of this plastic waste ends up in landfills, incinerators and bodies of water, where it can harm the environment and wildlife.

Trader Joe’s has taken steps to reduce plastic usage after reports and evidence were released that negatively impacted the establishment. The company has eliminated single-use plastic bags in stores and is working towards reducing plastic packaging for some products. However, concerns about the company’s plastic usage continue to be raised by some customers and environmental groups. Most single-use plastic containers can be recycled, but if they cannot, they are subject to sitting in a landfill or the ocean for hundreds of years before they break down.

Nine University students participated in a survey that revealed that the majority of them are unaware of Trader Joe’s overconsumption of plastic. Five of the students did not know that Trader Joe’s received criticism for using too much plastic, while the remaining four students stated that they realized that certain aisles contain an excessive amount of plastic.

Although Trader Joe’s is a hot spot for local New Yorkers, there is always room for improving and promoting new and sustainable practices. As a solution, Trader Joe’s can provide information on what can be recycled and work to educate customers about the impact of plastic consumption and ways to reduce it.