• Committed to the journey: Oliver Bongardt, Aldi MD Corporate Buying Australia
    Committed to the journey: Oliver Bongardt, Aldi MD Corporate Buying Australia

Supermarket giant Aldi is committing to dramatically reducing its plastic packaging, saying it will axe it by a quarter within the next six years, and will cease supply of many single use plastic products by the end of next year.

The company says it will present an annual report on its progress, in order to be evidently transparent and authentic in its journey.

As far as its own branded products go, Aldi is committing to them all being reformulated to be 100 per cent recyclable, reusable, or compostable, by the end of 2025. And by the end of next year all paper and pulp-based packaging in its everyday range will either be FSC, PEFC or at least 70 per cent recycled.

Aldi has 500 stores across Australia, its first one opened here in 2001. Across the world Aldi has some 10,000 supermarkets.

Speaking at its supplier forum, Oliver Bongardt, managing director of Corporate Buying at Aldi Australia said, “It is our ambition to reduce the amount of plastics in our stores, while in parallel stimulating Australia’s circular economy, ensuring that our business partners have commercially viable packaging options to reduce their reliance on virgin materials.”

Bongardt spoke on the timeline, saying, “Despite our desire, and that of our customers, to remove plastics immediately, this process will take years, not weeks. Today’s announcement is to clearly demonstrate that we are completely invested in the important journey of reducing waste, and we stand committed to quantify our progress over the coming years.”

The single-use plastic items that Aldi describes as "unnecessary and problematic" set to disappear from Aldi's shelves will include tableware, cotton buds and plastic straws. The company will also be actively reducing the amount of plastic packaging in its fresh produce range and transition to more sustainable alternatives where possible, providing no increase in food waste. It will prioritise the reduction or replacement of difficult-to-recycle black plastic packaging.

Aldi says it will aim to stimulate an Australian circular economy by committing to include 30 per cent recycled materials in its plastic packaging, by the end of 2025.

In response to Aldi’s announcement, Brooke Donnelly, CEO, Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation said, “I would like to acknowledge Aldi on its new sustainability commitments, which represent a significant contribution to sustainable packaging in Australia and an important milestone in our work to reach the 2025 National Packaging Targets.

“Today's announcement demonstrates that sustainable packaging isn't just good for the environment; it also makes good business sense and can drive a range of positive commercial benefits,” she said.

“It is particularly impressive to see the process Aldi has undertaken to involve its suppliers, effectively bringing a range of businesses along on their sustainable packaging journey and delivering an efficient, cost effective approach to the entire supply chain.”

Aldi says these packaging goals are part of its larger waste reduction programmes, which include never offering single-use carrier bags. The impact of this decision alone is the estimated diversion of six billion single-use plastic bags, or 40,000 tonnes of plastic, from entering the environment.

The business is the only supermarket to offer a battery recycling programme. Last year Aldi collected and facilitated the recycling of 5.9 million batteries.

Every store in Aldi’s network is linked to one or more food rescue partners. By the end of 2018, Aldi had donated 4,077 tons of food waste or 8.15 million meals to a series of Australian charities, including FoodBank, OzHarvest and Second Bite.

Bongardt said, “Together with our valued business partners, we are proud to have built a reputation for providing customers with a high quality and affordable shopping experience. As we look to our future in Australia, we want to reassure our customers that how we conduct business is just as important to us as the low prices we offer.”

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