Aldi reaches significant win in plastics battle: 'Fantastic'

Aldi has today 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 says that Aldi has achieved a 10 per cent plastics reduction across its fresh produce range in only one year.

The report also shows that Australians use over 3.5 million tonnes of plastic each year.

The supermarket’s plastic reduction commitment puts Aldi on track to achieve its plastic reduction target across its own label range by a quarter, since announcing the ambitious plastic reduction plan in 2019.

Two Aldi staff members in the product department. Source: Aldi
Many pre-packaged goods are being replaced with non-plastic alternatives. Source: Aldi

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

The supermarket has been working closely with producers and manufacturers to remove plastic products from its range, including sleeves, trays, wraps and labels; with a view to replace them with sustainable alternatives.

More than 65 per cent of the Aldi range now also carries the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) to assist customers in disposing of waste responsibly.

Aldi store front with logo and trolleys. Source: Reuters
Aldi's Plastics and Packaging Progress Report was released today. Source: Reuters

Today’s announcement, which follows similar sustainability announcements by major supermarkets Woolworths and Coles, puts Aldi in step with the businesses in line with the 2025 National Packaging Targets.

Taking the lead on major competitors Coles and Woolworths, Aldi has this year announced that it is 100 per cent powered with renewable electricity.

In-store sustainability changes at Aldi

Aldi has released information on specific in-store item changes as part of their commitment to plastic reduction.

The retailer has stated that almost all of their apparel range is now packaged in cardboard, as opposed to the previously used plastic bags.

Some milk bottles have had back labels removed in an effort to cut down plastic waste, and 20 packs of chips are now packaged in a cardboard box rather than a plastic bag.

Worker walks out of Aldi with trolley full of stock pallets. Source: Getty Images
Aldi has also stopped selling single use plastics in store. Source: Getty Images

The supermarket is also trialling recyclable cardboard bread tags and home compostable strawberry punnets in select areas across the country.

Black packaging, like meat trays, has more than halved due to the difficult-to-recycle nature of the material, with 84 per cent of this packaging being switched to recyclable, reusable or compostable materials.

Aldi’s Director of Corporate Responsibility, Daniel Baker, says that Aldi continues to make environmentally conscious decisions in-store.

“Aldi has already removed a number of unnecessary and problematic plastics from its range, last year swapping out single-use plastic tableware, saving 322 tonnes of plastic from landfill, as well as replacing plastic cotton buds with a paper-stemmed version, avoiding over 357 million plastic stems from ending up in landfill each year,” Mr Baker said.

Aldi focuses on ‘conscious purchasing decisions’ for customers

Daniel Baker has also said the retail giant recognises its responsibility to minimise the use of plastics, saying many customers may have already noticed these changes.

“Australian grocery buyers are informed and want to be able to make conscious purchasing decisions,” he said.

“Shoppers may have noticed changes such as our Yoconut dairy free dessert tubs transitioning from plastic to paperboard packaging and the removal of plastic trays from some packaged fresh fruit like apples and pears.”

Mr Baker said that these changes may seem small, but all add up to make a big difference.

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

Brooke Donnelly, Chief Executive Officer of The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) says it’s fantastic to see businesses proactively taking steps to reduce their plastics footprint.

“Collectively, we have a huge task ahead of us to achieve the 2025 National Packaging Targets,” Ms Donnelly said.

"However, it is fantastic to see Aldi step up to address this challenge through implementing solutions to reduce and improve the recyclability of packaging within their supply chain.

“Aldi is a founding member of the ANZPAC Plastics Pact and a supporting partner of the Australian Dairy Sustainable Packaging Roadmap, both of which are industry leading actions that bring together industry stakeholders to take action to create a circular economy for plastics.”

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