Pret CEO Clive Schlee has penned an open note to customers asking them if the chain should stop selling plastic water bottles and separately revealed it has begun trialling water filter stations in-store.
The chain, which numbers 500 units in the UK, is testing reusable bottles and taps in its Veggie Pret and Manchester shops in an effort to do more when it comes to packaging.
Schlee has invited customers to share their views on what it can do to make the most impact in this area, admitting that plastic bottles are a “problem”.
“We all feel it even before we hear the shocking statistics about millions of tonnes ending up in our oceans each year and imagine the devastating impact this has on marine wildlife,” he said. “Pret has always tried to lead on food waste – we’ve been donating our unsold food to the homeless every night since our first shop opened more than 30 years ago. We are making inroads on the problem of packaging waste by reducing where we can and making more of it recyclable.This includes working to find a solution to the fiendish coffee cup problem. We recognise we have lots to do.”
Mr Schlee said plastic bottles present a “real challenge” and explained that there are two schools of thought within Pret.
“The passionate environmentalists say stop selling them altogether, while the pragmatists say make it as easy as you can for customers to use fewer plastic bottles. We are looking carefully at both options. I tend towards the pragmatist end myself.”
Starting today, all three Veggie Pret shops in London will be encouraging customers to fill up their bottles for free using new filtered water stations. The trials will be extended to its Manchester shops by the end of the month.
“These shops will also start selling two sizes of reusable glass bottles alongside our regular water bottles, so the choice is clear. The aim is to understand if customers will choose to refill a bottle rather than buying a new plastic one.”