Carrier bags

At Boots UK, we want to help our customers care for the environment while also making a difference in their local communities.

From Monday 24 June 2019, we changed our plastic carrier bags to unbleached, brown paper carrier bags. This started in 53 Boots stores, followed by a full roll out to all stores. The change will remove more than 900 tonnes of plastic from our store operations each year (based on 2018-19 carrier bag usage).

The new Boots bags are made from unbleached, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified recycled brown paper, which is printed with water-based inks so the bags can be easily recycled at home. Sourced and manufactured in the UK, the bags display the On-Pack Recycling Label (OPRL) standard, which helps consumers to recycle correctly and more often.

Any profits from the sale of our brown paper bags will be donated to BBC Children in Need to support disadvantaged children across the UK.

Information about our bag volumes and charitable donations for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can be found under the Performance section of this page. For the year ending 6th April 2021, £113,639.62 was raised for BBC Children in Need from our carrier bags.

In Northern Ireland, we will continue to make payments to the Environment Department in addition to donations to BBC Children in Need.

Packaging - Playing its part in delivering great products

We know that great products are more than just about what’s on the inside. On the outside the packaging is performing an important role protecting the Boots products you love from damage, making sure they can be transported easily, keeping you safe from any risk of product tampering, and maintaining the product in good condition while being used.

Depending on the product, some packaging is functional, for example Boots Value Paracetamol and some is designed to look fabulous on your bathroom shelf, such as No7 cosmetics.

Packaging performs many roles supporting our great products. However it uses precious resources, which if not responsibly managed, will add to the mountain of waste disposed of every day.

Therefore for all types of packaging, whether it’s Boots own brand, exclusive brands or packaging used to deliver products to our stores, we try to ensure it reduces the impact on the environment as much as possible. This applies both during the manufacturing process and at the end of its life.

Whenever we develop new packaging for products, we continually question whether we are producing it in the best way possible. For example:

  • Can we reduce the amount of packaging used?
  • Does the packaging help to improve the overall environmental performance of the product?
  • Can we increase the use of recyclable materials in the packaging?
  • How effectively can the packaging be recycled at the end of its life?

What else do we do?

Reducing the impact the business has on the environment is not something new. Boots has been actively working on ways to improve sustainability for many years.

  • Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP): We are members of the Courtaulds Commitment run by the government backed WRAP, a programme designed to help companies reduce the amount of packaging entering the waste stream. The WRAP Product Sustainability Forum sees us working with over 80 other organisations to measure, reduce and discuss the environmental impact of grocery and home improvement products.
  • When we opened a new distribution centre in Burton upon Trent to support our online shopping orders, we introduced a range of boxes to suit all sizes of orders and changed the materials of these boxes to be more environmentally friendly. We are now looking to use some of these lessons learnt for ‘collect-in-store’ orders.
  • In August 2018, we introduced a new paperless invoicing process for customer orders from to help reduce paper waste.
  • In 2018, Boots signed the UK Plastics Pact to take action to eliminate problematic or unnecessary single-use packaging items through redesign, innovation or alternative (reuse) delivery models by 2025.
  • When we re-launched the Botanics range in 2012 we managed to revise the packaging to be even more environmentally friendly. We used recycled plastic in the bottles and tubes, and sustainably-sourced cardboard certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for the cartons.
  • Boots switched from round to square fruit pots reducing the amount of plastic used in these products by an estimated 16 tonnes per year. Fruit pots are also made of a minimum of 50% recycled material.
  • We removed black plastic from all Boots brand food packaging.
  • Switched sushi trays from blue to clear PET, with greater recyclability and more valuable as recycled material.
  • In January 2019, Boots Opticians partnered with Johnson & Johnson, in collaboration with Terracycle, to offer the UK’s first nationwide in store contact lens recycling scheme.
  • Boots carries the OPRL (On-Pack Recycling Label) label across the majority of its packaging.
  • We have added additional recycling information to gift packaging inserts
  • Boots centralised pharmacy is introducing more than 60% recycled content to their prescription bags. Boots is actively looking at alternative packaging options including cellulose (compostable), potato starch and a paper solution.
  • We removed sandwich acetate trays eliminating 42 tonnes of plastic.
  • At the beginning of 2019 Boots worked with WRAP to evaluate enhanced consumer recycling messages on bathroom toiletries. This involved our Product Evaluation team trialling labelled products with 3,000 members of the public. The results of the trial are now being assessed by WRAP.