'Shame on you': Boots berated for wrapping prescriptions in plastic bags


The pharmacy chain Boots has come under fire for using plastic bags, rather than paper ones, to package some of its prescriptions.

Environmental campaigners and customers criticised the firm, which signed up to a high-profile scheme to cut plastic packaging last year.

Greenpeace said it was baffled by the pharmacy’s decision, while the government-backed waste advisers that run the scheme said they would be discussing the issue with Boots.

Louise Edge, Greenpeace UK’s head of plastics campaign, noted the recent releases of international reports making clear the “catastrophic implications of single-use plastic for both the climate and human health” and accused Boots of displaying “not only corporate incompetence, but a complete disinterest in upholding promises made to their loyal customers.”

Last August, Boots signed up to the UK Plastics Pact, a voluntary pledge by the retail industry to cut single-use plastic packaging. Wrap, the body that leads the campaign, said on Friday it was “engaging with Boots on this and other topics in relation to their contribution”.

According to the BBC, several Boots customers had expressed their disgust, including one who went back to her local branch to return the packaging and demand the retailer change its policy.

Roisin Moriarty told the broadcaster she got increasingly angry after leaving the pharmacy with her subscription wrapped in plastic. “I told my colleagues, who were equally appalled, then decided I could not let it lie.

Holly
(@sassymannequin)

@BootsUK we’re all here trying to reduce our use of plastics and you decide to start giving out prescriptions in plastic bags instead of paper. What are your reasons for this pointless use of plastic packaging?#plasticpollution #plasticwaste #plasticfree #singleuseplastic pic.twitter.com/QSoA79sqgy


May 10, 2019

“I scrawled ‘SHAME ON YOU!’ and ‘PAPER, NOT PLASTIC!’ on it in black marker pen and took it up to the pharmacy counter with an overly-polite, ‘This is for whoever cares to take any notice’ then walked out.”

Boots said it needed to use the plastic packaging on those orders processed at a centralised pharmacy because the material is more durable.

It said the system freed up its pharmacists for “more services for our patients” and had been in place since 2014. The scheme was not being run in an attempt to save money.

Edge said she was baffled, adding the plastic bags would not “degrade for hundreds of years, potentially releasing toxic microplastic pollution into our rivers and oceans and impacting entire populations of sea creatures and other wildlife.”

She added: “Greenpeace is calling on the UK government to set new legally-binding targets to reduce single use plastic production in the forthcoming environment bill. Only this will ensure that corporations like Boots put their plastic pledges into action.”

On Friday, Boots touted its environmental credentials, saying it has reduced the amount of plastic in its Christmas ranges by 164 tonnes and in its food range by 16 tonnes. “On bags in particular, we expect to announce further measures that will reduce our plastic usage dramatically in the coming weeks.”





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