“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,” he said.
“Despite our desire, and that of our customers, to remove plastics immediately, this process will take years not weeks.”
Aldi plans to reduce the amount of plastic packaging on fruit and vegetables, shifting towards more sustainable alternatives where possible, and prioritise the reduction or replacement of difficult-to-recycle black plastic packaging.
The retailer, which has never supplied single-use plastic bags, will phase out other single-use plastics including straws, disposable tableware and plastic stemmed cotton buds by the end of 2020.
By the end of 2020, all paper and pulp-based house brand packaging will be 70 per cent recycled or certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or the Programme√ for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.
Aldi’s plan will increase pressure on food, grocery and general merchandise suppliers to find ways to cut plastic packaging without jeopardising product safety and integrity. Aldi has set up a team to help suppliers switch to the new regime.
Aldi’s plan also ups the ante on Coles and Woolworths, which have set no firm overall packaging reduction targets after banning single-use plastic bags last year, cutting back on plastic packaging and shifting towards recyclable packaging,
For example Coles, which wants to be recognised as Australia’s most sustainable supermarket, plans to make all house brand packaging recyclable by 2020. A wide range of meat and poultry packaging will be 100 per cent recyclable and made from recycled material.
Woolworths has removed more than 500 tonnes of unnecessary plastic packaging from produce and bakery foods in 18 months and stopped selling plastic straws last November. By 2025 all of Woolworths’ house brand packaging will be either reusable, recyclable or compostable.
Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation chief executive Brooke Donnelly congratulated Aldi on its commitments, saying they would make a significant contribution to sustainable packaging in Australia.
“It’s particularly impressive to see the process Aldi has undertaken to involve their 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,” Ms Donnelly said.