Morrisons and Waitrose ditch glitter for Christmas

By Tom Espiner
Business reporter, BBC News

Christmas decorationImage source, Getty Images

Morrisons, Waitrose and John Lewis have said they won't be using glitter in own-brand Christmas products this year.

The tiny pieces of plastic can wash into the environment, harm wildlife, and get into the food chain.

The move is part of a wider push by retailers to try to reduce festive plastics pollution.

Boots said it would be cutting out single-use plastic packaging from Christmas gifts, taking 2,000 tonnes of plastic from its ranges.

Asda announced in September that it would launch its first sustainable Christmas range, and Tesco uses only edible glitter.

Sainsbury's said that this year "customers will find no glitter on our Christmas cards, wrapping paper or gift bags." It has also removed glitter used on a range of crackers, decorations, and flowers.

Between four and 12 million tonnes of plastic waste makes its way into oceans every year, mainly through rivers, according to estimates.

That plastic then breaks down into smaller, toxic pieces, which can be ingested by creatures, harming and potentially killing them, if it fills their stomachs.

Image source, Dave Thompson
Image caption,
Morrisons will ditch glitter on own brand Christmas products

Plastic moves

Morrisons said on Wednesday that it would completely remove glitter from all of its own brand Christmas ranges including cards, crackers, wrapping paper, present bags, flowers, plants and wreaths.

It will also include only paper, metal or wooden toys in its Christmas crackers, which will be completely plastic-free, it said.

Glitter is an "ecological hazard" which "takes hundreds of years to degrade" once it gets into rivers and oceans, Morrisons said.

Morrisons said its decision would remove 50 tonnes of plastic from its shelves during the festive period.

Christine Bryce, Morrisons home director, said: "Every time a cracker is pulled, or a card is opened, plastics have been used... but just the once.

"So, we've taken glitter and plastic out of our festive range this year - so that our customers can enjoy their festivities without worrying about the environmental impact."

The move extends to non-seasonal lines, Morrisons added.

Waitrose and John Lewis will also remove glitter from all single-use products this Christmas.

"All own-brand cards, crackers, wrapping paper, gift bags are now 100% glitter-free," it said in a statement.

Waitrose has been phasing out glitter over the past few years, and has a target to make its own brand packaging widely recycled, reusable or home compostable by 2023.

Consumer demand

Boots said searches for ecologically friendly products on its website had grown by almost a third in a year.

It said that it would completely ditch single-use plastic packaging this year, and that gift packaging "is intended to be recycled or reused."

Retailers "are right to ditch unnecessary plastic this Christmas" said campaign group Friends of the Earth.

"People can still enjoy the festive season without the glitter and pointless packaging that add to the waves of plastic pollution that pour into our environment every year and threaten our wildlife," said Friends of the Earth campaigner Tony Bosworth.

But he said "we must go much further to end the scourge of plastic pollution" and called for the UK government to set targets for firms to phase out the use of unnecessary plastic.