The Need: People and businesses alike are becoming more aware of the negative impact that plastic waste has on our environment, ending up in landfills and polluting our oceans and their ecosystems. It’s our collective responsibility to act now to address this increasingly problematic global issue. ALDI wants to be a part of the solution, which is why we’re committed to shaping a new future of plastic use. Reduction is always an important first step when considering sustainable packaging, followed by implementing recyclable, compostable or reusable packaging alternatives to reduce material loss and waste.
The Solution: At ALDI, we have never offered single-use plastic bags, as you would find in other grocery retail stores. We realize that tackling the global plastics crisis requires aggressive action, which is why we recently announced a new commitment to eliminate plastic shopping bags from our stores by the end of 2023. These bags have already been eliminated from over 500 stores so far this year, and we look forward to phasing them out across all our U.S. stores over the next year.
This commitment builds on our existing sustainable packaging initiatives, including our goal to make all ALDI-exclusive packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable and to utilize 30% post-consumer recycled content in plastic packaging by 2025. Through our 2030 Progress Report released in 2022, we were pleased to report that 62% of ALDI-exclusive packaging is now reusable, recyclable or compostable – tracking well towards our 2025 goal.
In addition to this work, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention our third-party partnerships that enable us to contribute to widespread impact, especially in the grocery industry. In August 2020, ALDI U.S. became a founding activator of the U.S. Plastics Pact, where, together with other partners, we’re creating a path towards a circular economy. We are also a member of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition to make packaging more sustainable and we’ve also worked with the Food Industry Association to develop a sustainable packaging playbook that provides guidance for suppliers on circular packaging initiatives to improve progress across all industries, including grocery.
Which of the Pact’s 4 Targets does your work help achieve? TARGET 1: Define a list of packaging that is to be designated as problematic or unnecessary by 2021 and take measures to eliminate them by 2025
What makes it particularly smart or circular? Our bold commitment to eliminate plastic shopping bags from our stores by the end of 2023 is unique because this makes ALDI the first major U.S. retailer to commit to removing plastic checkout bags, in turn saving an estimated 4,400 tons of plastic each year. By asking customers to bring their own reusable grocery bag (or tote, basket, etc.), we’re disrupting the grocery retail industry by not only cutting costs of the bag itself but also by cutting plastic waste to help the environment and support a more circular economy.
Results, Benefits, and Outcomes to Date: Prior to announcing our commitment to eliminate plastic shopping bags from our stores by the end of 2023 nationwide, we understood the importance of testing such a significant change in select stores to better understand customer reactions and any implications on store operations. Using data from our test stores, we planned accordingly to ensure that ALDI customers always have a sustainable bag option available when checking out. Upon successful results and positive sentiment from employees and customers, the decision was made to remove bags from all of our stores across the country by the end of 2023.
By discontinuing the sale of plastic shopping bags from checkout by the end of 2023, ALDI will eliminate 4,400 tons of plastic from circulation each year. We’re still in the process of rolling out this new effort, and we expect it to be successful thanks to the significant preparation that preceded it.
Quote: “It’s clear that we’re focused on reducing our plastic and packaging waste, especially considering our new goal to eliminate plastic shopping bags from our stores – a bold commitment from a grocery retailer. We take a lot of pride in the progress we’ve made toward our sustainability goals, while also maintaining the affordability of our products for customers, but we acknowledge there’s more work to be done across the grocery retail industry. This is why we’re fortunate to be a founding member of the U.S. Plastics Pact, partnering to drive meaningful change that disrupts the grocery industry and beyond to create a better, healthier planet for all.” – Joan Kavanaugh, ALDI U.S., Vice President of National Buying