Will Aldi make groundbreaking in-store change?: 'Needs to happen'

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·News Reporter
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Aldi shoppers are wondering whether the supermarket giant will be adopting a drastic in-store change to plastic use its counterparts in Europe are embracing.

It comes after France announced it will ban plastic packaging for nearly all fruit and vegetables from January 2022.

A shopper took to a popular Facebook group, Aldi Fans Australia, to question why Aldi Australia isn’t following in the footsteps of their French stores by banning plastic.

“It would be so good if Aldi Australia stopped using so much plastic. Pretty sure they are doing this in some of their European stores,” wrote the frustrated shopper, alongside a link to the news of the plastic ban in France.

"This needs to happen urgently in Australia too!"

The customer wrote: “It's like Australia is doing it in slow motion”, before adding that it has taken the country decades to even get started on reducing our plastic use.

Fruit and vegetables in plastic (left) and Aldi store (right). Source: Aldi/Getty Images
Australian Aldi shoppers call supermarket to reduce plastic packaging for fruit and vegetables. Source: Aldi/Getty Images

“Recycling itself is a major global problem. Particularly bad in Australia.

"In the end the vast majority of plastic produced, even if it does get recycled sometimes, eventually ends up in our environment as some form of pollution. We can do so much better!” wrote the impassioned shopper.

Yahoo News Australia spoke to Aldi Australia about reducing their plastic packaging for fruit and vegetables and they confirmed it is a key priority for the supermarket.

The plastic packaging ban the shopper is referring to is a new law in France which lists about 30 fruits and vegetables that must be sold without plastic packaging from January 1, 2022. 

France's plastic packaging ban for fruit and vegetables

The environment ministry announced the ban in a statement earlier this month, which is aimed to reduce plastic waste and will include the loose selling of leeks, eggplants, tomatoes, apples, bananas, oranges and more.

"We use an outrageous amount of single-use plastic in our daily lives. The circular economy law aims at cutting back the use of throwaway plastic and boost its substitution by other materials or reusable and recyclable packaging," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry estimated that 37 per cent of fruit and vegetables are sold with packaging and expects that the move will reduce more than one billion useless plastic packaging items per year.

Aldi staff stand in front of loose fruit and vegetables in store. Source: Aldi
Much of Aldi's pre-packaged fresh produce is being replaced with non-plastic alternatives. Source: Aldi

Although Aldi Europe has not officially commented on how they will address the ban of plastic packaging for fresh produce in France, they have already implemented measures to reduce it in stores.

In 2019, Aldi converted all carrier bags to multiple-use bags in Germany and removed non-reusable plastic carrier bags from the stores throughout Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Poland. 

While Aldi France switched to FSC® MIX-certified paper bags in January this year.

Will Aldi Australia follow in France's footsteps?

Aldi recently announced that almost 2,000 tonnes of plastic packaging has been removed from shelves in the past year.

The retailer's annual Plastics and Packaging Progress Report showed that Aldi achieved a 10 per cent reduction of plastics across its fresh produce range in only one year.

Director of Corporate Responsibility for Aldi Australia, Daniel Baker, told Yahoo News Australia that the goal to reduce the amount of plastic packaging across the supermarket's fruit and vegetable range is paramount.   

“Removing plastics across our fresh produce range is a key priority and in 2020 we achieved a plastic reduction of 10 per cent in this area,” said Mr Baker.

Inside Aldi supermarket which has reduced plastic packaging for fresh produce. Source: Aldi
Aldi has reduced plastic packaging for fresh produce by 10 per cent in one year. Source: Aldi

“This was achieved through a number of packaging changes including the removal of plastic trays from some packaged fresh fruit like apples, pears, nectarines and peaches along the eastern seaboard and in SA,” he said.

Mr Baker explained that Aldi Australia is trialling home compostable strawberry punnets, while also continuing to investigate ways to roll this packaging out across more of their produce range.

“The next few years will see us continue to remove plastics from our range or replace it with sustainable alternatives and by 2025 all remaining packaging will be either recyclable, reusable or compostable.”

By 2025, Aldi aims to send zero waste to landfill, which includes a goal to achieve zero food waste sent to landfill by 2023.

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