In an attempt to reduce plastic waste, Marks & Spencer has announced that it will remove glitter from all of its Christmas items this year. This includes not only decorations but wrapping paper and tags, gift bags, Christmas cards, calendars and even crackers. The idea is to encourage customers to recycle items and to reduce the overall amount of plastic waste produced by the store. The company has pledged to ensure that its entire range is 100 per cent free of glitter by the end of 2020.
In addition to Marks & Spencer, Waitrose has also stated that it will make its ranges free from plastic glitter by Christmas next year, replacing it with alternative materials that are biodegradable.
Marks & Spencer has said that its products will still look jolly and festive as they will be replacing glitter with minimal foil designs and innovative paper patterns, a move that has been welcomed by many people. Paul Willgoss, food technology director for M&S, commented that the removal of glitter helps towards reducing single-use plastics, an issue that is important to both the company and its customers, He said that the change would make it easier for customers to celebrate Christmas more sustainably.
However, some customers have queried why this is necessary as biodegradable glitter is now widely available. Comments on the initiative from the public via social media have included “Christmas is cancelled” and that removing all the glitter from the Christmas range seems “a little joyless”.
A Marks & Spencer spokesperson responded to the remarks on Twitter by explaining to journalists that the company was aiming to make its cards and wrapping range more easily recyclable and that biodegradable glitter would not be an effective solution to use for these items.
Although many single-use plastic products can be recycled, glitter on cards means that they cannot be recycled with waste paper products and turned into paper. However, designs on cards could be reused to make new cards for next year, so not all glittery Christmas products need to end up in landfill. The company itself has included instructions on recycling to the back of its Christmas wrapping paper rolls, explaining that items such as bows and tape should be removed.
In addition to the changes to cards and wrapping products, M&S food stores will also be stocking a Christmas range of plants and flowers that are free from glitter and food products with no single-use plastic packaging.
The company said that nearly 50 tonnes of plastic had been saved by the removal of plastic packaging from its boxed cards. The majority of these now use card packaging which can be recycled. Across the whole business, M&S has reduced the amount of plastic packaging it uses by 1000 tonnes. By 2022 it aims to make all of its packaging widely recyclable.