Aldi Australia will replace all plastic straws in its boxed drinks range with paper alternatives in a bid to remove more than 40 million plastic straws annually, becoming the first supermarket in the country to do so.

Aldi will introduce paper straws on its beverage cartons, most notably the “humble and nostalgic” juice box, or ‘popper’. The pilot scheme, and subsequent nationwide rollout, is expected to divert 18 tonnes of single-use plastic from landfill annually.

According to Aldi, a lot of work, planning and innovation by its supplier business partners went into delivering this initiative, and the pilot scheme will be achieved with the support of its Australian-based supplier business partner, Tru Blu Beverages.

The retailer says the new straws have gone through extensive quality assurance testing and measured highly in both integrity and durability – the straws are able to puncture packets and maintain a strong shape without softening.

The existing drink cartons are recyclable, and while the sleeve around the straw will remain plastic in the interim, it can be recycled through soft plastic recycling programs like REDcycle.

While the juice popper has been a staple of Aussie recesses since the 80s, it has also contributed to more than 140 billion plastic straws ending up in Australian landfill over the past decades.

“Juice boxes are a regular in kids’ lunchboxes and we are exceptionally proud to start offering poppers with less plastic at the same low price,” said Dan Warner, buying director for drinks at Aldi Australia. 

“Parents on a mission to reduce household waste and their environmental impact can now have peace of mind knowing the drink in their child’s lunchbox contains less plastic, and they aren’t sacrificing convenience or worrying about any impact to their back pockets. 

“It’s crucial to us to deliver the best quality at the most affordable prices. When we can do that, make a change that benefits the planet and doesn’t cost our customers more, it’s a no-brainer.”

The announcement follows Aldi Australia’s industry-leading decision in 2020 to remove single-use plastic tableware from sale in stores, saving 322 tonnes of plastic from landfill, as well as replacing plastic-stemmed cotton buds with a paper-stemmed version. 

This development means Aldi has achieved its commitment to remove problematic and single-use plastic from its product range. 

“Responsibility is one of Aldi’s core values, so when we say we are taking steps to contribute to a more sustainable future, we don’t cut corners to get there,” Warner said. 

“We challenge ourselves to a more sustainable future, we don’t cut corners to get there. We challenge ourselves to be bold in our commitments, and that means assessing every single component of the supply chain, and finding all the ways we can make a positive change.

“This action is an important step for Aldi and is made possible through the tireless work of our Australian-based business partners, who also want to make a real difference in plastics reduction,” said Warner. 

Peter Brooks, CEO of Tru Blu Beverages, said, “We want to provide every Australian with a quality product at an affordable price and strive for environmentally-sustainable manufacturing and packaging solutions.” 

“Much like us, Aldi has a focus on eradicating unnecessary plastics across the whole supply chain. Every piece of plastic removed from the environment, no matter how small, is a positive change, and actions like this can have a big impact.” 

The paper straw program forms part of Aldi’s goal to reduce the amount of plastic used in packaging across its own-label range by 25 per cent by 2025. Aldi’s plastic and packaging commitments are just some of several sustainability initiatives in place across the business and its supply chain. 

By 2025, Aldi aims to send zero waste to landfill, which includes a goal to achieve zero food waste sent to landfill by 2023. This year, the supermarket also became 100 per cent powered with renewable energy. 

Aldi customers in select NSW stores can see the new-look paper straws, sporting Westcliff Tropical Fruit Drink packs this month, with a nationwide rollout across the whole beverage carton range set to occur in 2022.

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