A row has broken out over Boots’ use of plastic bags to supply its prescriptions.
It started with a Twitter user, who goes by the username @redribbon226, calling out the high street pharmacy for dispensing her regular medication in “an oversized plastic bag”.
Boots were quick to respond to the user, explaining the use of plastic is for safety and security purposes – and because it allows an “inspection window” to allow people to see its content.
However, the user was not satisfied with this response, suggesting the initiative was purely “to make more money”.
@BootsUK please can you advise me why it is necessary to start dispensing my prescription in an oversized plastic bag? It has been in a small paper bag for the past 12 years.— nausicaa (@redribbon226) May 8, 2019
Others, including Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson, have since weighed in on Twitter.
The critics are holding Boots to account for its use of the plastic packaging, calling the choice “pointless” and “retrograde”.
Boots has said it is “committed to reducing single-use plastic” after last year signing up to the UK Plastics Pact – however this backlash would suggest the initiative has not gone far enough for some of its customers.
Seriously, @BootsUK? Turning from paper to plastic to save costs is not an acceptable way to run a business these days. Your customers are rightly livid and baffled. Sort this out please.https://t.co/K0NKIzLHIn— Tom Watson (@tom_watson) May 17, 2019
@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— Holly (@sassymannequin) May 10, 2019
Very retrograde poor decision making at @BootsUK - having said that I think it is also much better to support smaller and independent local pharmacies for repeat prescriptions.#plasticwaste#singleuseplastic— JSE (@Jeromesh68) May 17, 2019
BBC News - plastic prescription bagshttps://t.co/6V5rjmsY3U
Dismayed to see that @BootsUK are boosting the number of single-use #plastic bags for their prescriptions. This sends out all the wrong messages and no lame corporate excuses can make up for this. Time to support your local pharmacist instead? https://t.co/eHvHCApGiE— David Lloyd Owen (@Daviddwr) May 17, 2019
Another Twitter user weighed into the debate, suggesting the greater issue concerns medication packaging in general – which is often non-recyclable.
Being pissy about a plastic bag for your prescription is so dumb in comparison to the excessive, non-recyclable and downright illogical packaging medications can come in. https://t.co/Pwk3Kbe87C— Heggitha ;; (@HeggieTBK) May 17, 2019
I have a mini pharmacy here and something is in a full size blister pack for like two capsules or summat equally stupid.— Heggitha ;; (@HeggieTBK) May 17, 2019
Whatever stance you take, plastic pollution has become a growing concern in recent months.
Just last month, McDonalds began replacing its red and yellow striped plastic straws with paper ones – although this was met with a backlash from some of its milkshake-drinking customers.
The word “single-use” – as in, single-use plastics – was also voted Collins’ Word of the Year for 2018 – a testament to our growing awareness of the devastating effect plastic use has on our environment.