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Aldi commits to 2022 plastics pledge

Matthew BarnesDiscount grocer Aldi has pledged its support for WRAP’s new cross-sector initiative, which aims to transform UK’s plastics system and tackle plastic pollution.

“Our customers trust us not only to offer them high-quality products at unbeatable prices, but to help them lead healthier, better lives,” said Matthew Barnes, CEO of Aldi UK & IRE.

“That includes reducing waste, particularly around unnecessary packaging and plastics that damage the environment we live in. While we cannot do this alone – and call on others to collaborate with us and others to drive change industry-wide – we are committed to doing all we can to lead the way and to bring our customers on this journey with us.”

Aldi said in a statement the initiative aligns with its own packaging reduction strategy. The discount grocer also announced it will ensure that all packaging on its own-label products will be recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2022.

The discount grocer plans to scrap 5p carrier bags as part of its work to cut the amount of packaging and plastics used by both its business and its customers. It will instead offer customers bags for life as well as reusable 9p bags made from back-of-store plastic waste.

“We welcome Aldi taking positive action to reduce plastic waste. Through WRAP’s new ambitious, cross-sector initiative, which will be unveiled soon, we will work together with governments, citizens and business to transform the way we make, use and dispose of plastic so that we retain its value, particularly in reducing food waste, but prevent it from polluting the environment. We are delighted that Aldi intend to be a founding member in our groundbreaking work,” said Marcus Gover, CEO of WRAP.

Aldi said it has also pledged its support for a national deposit return scheme for plastic bottles and is currently assessing the feasibility of how such a scheme could be implemented. It will report on the progress of all its packaging initiatives on an annual basis and, to help hit those targets, has set up its own task force – made up of internal and independent experts – to help drive innovation.

The discount supermarket has charged for single-use bags since its first UK store opened in 1990, and has used plastic recycled from its back-of-store waste to make its reusable carrier bags since the middle of last year. It has already removed all plastic stems from its cotton buds in December 2017, and banned all microbeads and microplastics from products in 2015.

Aldi also sent no waste to landfill since 2014 and was also among the first to sign the Courtauld Commitment 2025 to reduce the environmental impact of food and drink waste by 20 per cent by 2025. It joined the Champions 12.3 coalition with a pledge to halve operational waste by 2030.

The discount grocer said it will now provide regular updates on progress, including making further commitments when possible, and will publish an annual packaging and plastics report each spring. It will also seek to amplify the impact of the commitments it makes within its business by aiming to educate customers on the importance of reducing waste themselves.

As well as engaging directly with customers in-store and via social and online media, Aldi will work with partners such as Team GB to help 1.2 million children learn about recycling and waste as part of its Get Set to Eat Fresh initiative.

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