Aldi has responded after a shopper discovered a meat product excessively wrapped in plastic packaging — a backward step for the retailer, which had been making strides to reduce plastic waste in its stores.
After buying crumbed pork schnitzels at an Aldi store in Sydney, the concerned customer noticed that not only were they packed in a plastic tray but also wrapped in an additional layer of plastic within the tray.
'Didn't serve a purpose'
The customer shared his disappointment with Yahoo News, stating, "The amount of plastic packaging felt excessive and didn't appear to serve any additional purpose in protecting the food. The plastic container seemed more than enough to me."
"I think it's a weird move from Aldi, one layer of plastic protection is surely enough?" he said, adding that recycling the soft plastic would be difficult now that REDcycle is no longer operating.
The Sydney resident noted that the excessive amount of plastic was out of the ordinary for Aldi, saying, "I shop at Aldi maybe twice a week... the pork packaging is the only product I've seen that's got this strange double-plastic cover."
"From my point-of-view it does seem to contradict their efforts to be more sustainable," he said, "I don't know much about best packaging practices, but two layers of plastic doesn't sound right."
Indeed, the discovery seemed to fly in the face of Aldi's recent move to pack mince meat in bags that use 70 per cent less plastic than trays, part of the supermarket giant's commitment to reduce plastic packaging by 25 per cent by the end of 2025.
Aldi addresses waste concerns
Speaking to Yahoo, an Aldi spokesperson said the extra plastic wrapped around the pork schnitzels is an "isolated incident".
"The layer of plastic that enables short life products to be vacuum sealed seems to have separated from the container while being processed, appearing as an additional layer of packaging despite this not being the case," the spokesperson explained. "There is no food safety issue or risk to the product being consumed."
The spokesperson went onto say this incident doesn't meet the retailer's high-quality standards and they're investigating how it occurred. Any customers that aren't completely satisfied with the product are invited to return to store for a full refund.
Supermarkets can do better
Environmental scientist Dr Paul Harvey, author of The Plasticology Project, said Aldi and other supermarkets need to do more to reduce plastic waste in general.
"For so long Australian consumers have been misled into thinking that recycling soft plastics through schemes like REDcycle is a way out of the plastic pollution problem — it isn't," cautioned Dr Harvey. "The only way out is by reducing the amount of plastic that is used in Australia across multiple industry sectors."
"Supermarket retailers need to step up and take responsibility for their sector's contribution to the waste problem. If the supermarkets won't do it willingly, then it is time for regulators to step in and mandate changes."
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