ALDI is growing rapidly in the UK and already has 312 stores dotted around the country. But as a discount retailer, cost savings are extremely important to the chain and large increases in waste disposal costs and landfill taxes are a cause of concern.

With the help of waste management firm Greenstar, ALDI has been able to keep its environmental costs stable for the past three years. This has helped the chain achieve low product prices as well as objectives around responsible citizenship and social responsibility.

Andreas Siegmann, managing director for ALDI in the Midlands and the man responsible for all waste matters in the UK, says his company needed a waste management contractor that could deal with ALDI’s issues nationwide. Siegmann says he looked into at least five different providers before Greenstar were appointed. He says Greenstar, “had the most convincing calibre of personnel that came across as professional, genuine and not only interested in making a buck out of waste, but in finding solutions to the problems that we were having.”

Starting with the Midlands region, and focusing mainly on packaging compliance, the Greenstar team began working with individual stores. It moved on to cover the whole region and then other regions until all the stores and warehouses in the UK were included.

Recycling revenue

ALDI has invested heavily in cardboard recycling and one of the early Greenstar objectives was to generate more revenue for recycling. Services have also been added for recycling fluorescent tubes and animal by-products and, moving forward, there will be a focus on the WEEE directive.

Before Greenstar were appointed, ALDI used various regional contractors, all co-ordinated in house. Greenstar is now the single point of contact for all of ALDI’s sites. This has reduced the chain’s administration and standardised its in-house procedures.

Regular meetings between Greenstar and ALDI personnel also ensure that objectives are met. Greenstar starts at the beginning of the process, with packaging and its reduction, and works right through to the end of the process – with regards to taking care of ALDI’s own creative waste streams in stores and distribution centres.

Siegmann reports that ALDI has now introduced key performance indicators and that overall recycling within the stores is now just over 70%. He says: “Every store manager, area manager and regional manager in the country now has particular cost targets related to the amount of waste they produce. They can also compare their figures to everyone else’s, so they are benchmarked against each other which helps to reduce waste as well.”

Going forward, Greenstar is planning to analyse ALDI’s remaining waste streams. This will primarily involve out-of-date products, and the implementation of a solution for the better management of these products.

Keith Brown, sales director for Greenstar, explains: “This will further enhance ALDI’s recycling capability and will ensure costs going forward are kept to a minimum. We want to come up with other ideas and solutions where we can divert this remaining waste stream away from landfill.

“There has been a successful project over the past 12 to 18 months of capturing the recyclables – the opportunity now is to further reduce costs by removing this waste out of the general waste stream.

“As a discount operator, simplicity and efficiency are always at the forefront of our thinking,” Siegmann concludes. “We don’t have fresh meat or food counters and therefore waste in that area is minimised, which assists in reducing waste streams. This does not mean that we rest on that achievement – we are always looking for ways of reducing waste even further.”

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