Packaging & cycle
[GRI 301/103-1] Waste avoidance is a key pillar of sustainable development. At almost 82 per cent, packaging waste accounts for the biggest proportion of the total waste generated by the ALDI North Germany. For many products, packaging is essential for protection and quality assurance, making it impossible to avoid it completely. That is why we focus on recyclable materials and, in some cases, on multiple-use systems for fruit and vegetable outer packaging. Moreover, we are reviewing ways to contribute to a circular economy that helps conserve resources through packaging and through our products and carrier bags.
[GRI 301/103-2] When it comes to our transport and outer packaging, we use multiple-use systems whenever it makes economic and ecological sense to do so. Most of our fruit and vegetable products are transported in multiple-use boxes instead of conventional cardboard packaging. However, single-use packaging is unavoidable in many cases in order to protect our products during transport. In Germany, we use foils and boxes made of recyclable materials so that these can be recovered. What is more, our disposable cardboard packaging already consists partially of recycled and/or certified material in many ALDI North Group countries.
Our considerations with a view to the circular economy do not stop at packaging. In a circular economy, products are developed and manufactured in such a way that they can continue to be used or fully recovered following their original use, reducing the amount of waste and the amount of resources required to manufacture new products. We intend to encourage this mindset in future through appropriate projects.
[GRI 301/103-2/3] The topics of packaging and the cycle are coordinated in an interdisciplinary manner at the ALDI North Group. Corporate Responsibility (CR), Quality Assurance and Buying work together to address these issues. Because many packaging materials are made out of wood fibres, our approach to dealing with packaging and recycling within the ALDI North Group is guided by the provisions of our International Timber Purchasing Policy, among other things. In Germany, the new Packaging Act (Verpackungsgesetz), which will replace the previous Packaging Ordinance (Verpackungsverordnung) with effect from 1 January 2019, also plays a role. In the Netherlands, the food retail and manufacturing industries have set cross-sector targets for more sustainable packaging. The move towards a circular economy is also particularly apparent when it comes to the fast-paced apparel industry. In our National Cotton Purchasing Policy, we focus on using recycled cotton in Germany as well.
Progress and measures in 2017
New International Timber Purchasing Policy
[GRI 301/103-2/3] Most of our outer packaging is made of wood fibres. The exact figure varies from country to country. All told, almost 80 per cent of our packaging waste consists of wood, board or paper. In our International Timber Purchasing Policy, we lay out clear rules that are valid throughout the ALDI North Group for dealing with this resource – and therefore for dealing with a great deal of our packaging. We plan to change all wood and wood-based products, sales packaging, outer packaging and transport packaging to recycled or sustainably certified materials by 2020 (see Targets and status). At the same time, the purchasing policy is a binding framework for our relationship with our business partners. We work with them to rise to the social, environmental and economic challenges resulting in this field. Today, 18 per cent of our packaging waste already falls within the scope of the new International Timber Purchasing Policy. In the period under review, we started changing wood-based small packaging for fresh shell eggs to 100 per cent recycled materials.
Textiles and footwear: more recycled fibres
We already use recycled fibres in textiles and footwear. Special blankets and pillows with recycled fibres, for example, are part of our special-buy product range in Germany. These fibres come from PET bottles that we take back at our reverse vending machines. The PET bottles are chopped into flakes and ultimately spun into fibres. By 2020, we plan to investigate the implementation of closed-loop projects and corresponding research projects where it makes sense and is appropriate to do so. We are also looking into expanding the use of recycled fibres.
Doing away with disposable bags
In late 2017, we started discontinuing conventional disposable plastic shopping bags in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. Once the conversion process has been completed, these ALDI North Group countries will only carry reusable totes. For more information, please see the story entitled “Disposing with disposables”.
Targets and status
[GRI 301/103-2/3] Our International Timber Purchasing Policy contains clear targets for packaging. Among other things, we plan to convert all newly purchased sales, outer and transport packaging for products to sustainably certified quality or recycled material, depending on availability. In this respect, we accept the FSC® and PEFC™ standards or other standards in individual consultation that contribute to the promotion of sustainable forestry and/or environmentally friendly processing. For outer and transport packaging, we accept materials that consist of at least 70 per cent recycled materials without certification. The changeover is set to start immediately and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2020. In Germany, the changeover from disposable shopping bags to reusable carrier bags is scheduled for completion by the end of 2018 in consideration of existing supplier agreements.
Field of action: supply chain responsibility
|Objective||Status||Target date||Target value||Target relevance|
|Preparation and publication of an International Timber Purchasing Policy||2017||Purchasing policy||ALDI North Group|
|Changeover of wood and wood-based products to sustainably certified materials (FSC®, PEFC™, EU Ecolabel or comparable standards)||new||2020||100 %||ALDI North Group|
|Changeover of all newly purchased sales packaging, repackaging
and transport packaging for products to recycled and/or
sustainably certified materials (FSC®, PEFC™, EU Ecolabel or comparable standards), depending on availability
|new||2020||100 %||ALDI North Group|
Target achieved Ongoing process
Field of action: resource conservation
|Objective||Status||Target date||Target value||Target relevance|
|Discontinuation of plastic bags||new||2018||100 %||Germany, Netherlands, Belgium|
Number of bags sold/given away by type (in thousand)
|Carrier bags||Long-life shopping bags||Cooling bags||Bakery product bags||String net bags||Carrier bags||Long-life shopping bags||Cooling bags||Bakery product bags||String net bags||Carrier bags||Long-life shopping bags||Cooling bags||Bakery product bags||String net bags|
|ALDI North Group||99,292||6,234||2,340||179,762||246,888||103,387||5,952||2,356||234,431||253,412||99,455||6,374||2,523||308,489||310,171|
1 The information regarding the legally independent companies of the ALDI North Group in Belgium and Luxembourg has been combined for the purposes of a simplified presentation (refer to “Subject of the report”).Bakery product bags made of both plastic and paper are used in Belgium.
2 Late reporting information for the years 2015 and 2016 resulted in partial adjustments compared with the previous year’s report.
3 The carrier bags in Poland are different from those used by the rest of the ALDI North Group in terms of design and size.
Weight of materials used for primary packaging (in metric tons)1, 2, 3
|Total||Wood, board, paper||Plastics||Other||Total||Wood, board, paper||Plastics||Other||Total||Wood, board, paper||Plastics||Other|
|ALDI North Group||825,467||127,409||241,837||456,221||466,585||84,944||100,848||280,793||568,423||100,435||118,866||349,122|
1 The data are partly based on estimates and extrapolations.
2 Excluding data on items that are purchased nationally by our companies in Denmark and France. The quantities stated for these countries were sourced through the common ALDI Buying organisation.
3 The change in values for all countries except Belgium and Luxembourg compared to previous years is attributable to a change in the methodology used to estimate the quantities sourced through the common ALDI Buying organisation.
4 The information regarding the legally independent companies of the ALDI North Group in Belgium and Luxembourg has been combined for the purposes of a simplified presentation (refer to “Subject of the report”). The values pertaining to plastic packaging are based on the statutory packaging declaration and have been adjusted retroactively for the two previous years.
5 For items purchased in Poland, primary and secondary packaging was recorded as primary packaging.
We take responsibility for the protection of our environment and its natural resources. As a retailer, reducing waste and dedicating ourselves to fighting food losses play a central role.
It is an icon and has even made its way into a museum – the ALDI North plastic shopping bag. However, due to floating islands of plastic in the oceans, beaches littered with refuse and microplastics in our environment, it is clear that the disposable bag has finally outlived its usefulness.
Across the world, around one whole truckload of plastic is dumped into the oceans every minute. The Plastic Soup Foundation in the Netherlands has made it their goal to stop this development through information campaigns, educational efforts and innovative solutions. We are on board!
Health is a hot topic in the Netherlands, where discussion centres on childhood and teenage obesity, among other concerns. With a strong partner at our side, we are tackling this issue.
Climate change concerns everyone, so doing our part to protect the climate is a matter of course to us. A great deal is happening at our stores, because they are where we will be able to save the most CO2.
We are committed to reducing the impact of our business operations on the climate. Back in 2015, we specified in our Corporate Responsibility (CR) Policy that we aim to act in a climate friendly manner.