Aldi removes plastic packaging from fresh vegetable lines

The trial scheme launched today (18 March) and will run for six weeks

The retailer is offering loose savoy cabbage, red cabbage, white cabbage, pointed cabbage and cauliflower as part of a six-week trial scheme, which launched today (18 March) and will run across all of Aldi’s Scotland stores.

Aldi estimates that the trial alone will mitigate the use of around half a tonne of single-use plastic packaging. If the trial is successful and plastic packaging is therefore removed from these five lines at all 825 Aldi UK stores, the chain believes that the use of 100 tonnes of plastics could be avoided annually. 

“We’re working hard to reduce plastic, but we also need to ensure that reducing packaging doesn’t lead to unnecessary food waste,” Aldi UK’s managing director of corporate responsibility Fritz Walleczek said.

“We’re hoping the outcome of this trial will be positive, and something that we can roll out across the rest of the UK.”

The launch of the trial comes shortly after competitor Iceland unveiled a similar scheme at its food warehouse in Liverpool, where 35 produce lines are being sold loose as part of a 12-week pilot scheme. Similarly, Marks & Spencer (M&S) recently removed plastic packaging and ‘best-before’ dates from 90 of its fresh fruit and vegetable lines at its Tolworth store in Surbiton.

Action on packaging

Aldi UK’s announcement builds on the retailer’s sweeping array of plastic pledges, which were unveiled last March as part of an update to its sustainability strategy.

Commitments include a ban on single-use plastic bags, with all 5p bags having been removed from Aldi UK stores as of January, and a pledge to ensure all packaging on its own-label is reusable, recyclable or compostable before 2022.

Since setting these ambitions, Aldi UK has replaced more than 2,500 tonnes of hard-to-recycle plastics with recyclable alternatives. Key switches have included removing black plastics from several of its best-selling produce lines, eliminating polystyrene discs from its own-brand pizzas and re-designing all packaging for its Ashfield Farm meat products.

Aldi UK is also striving to increase the proportion of recycled materials in its own-brand packaging, and recently re-designed its range of plastic pasta pots to include 95% post-consumer recycled (PCR) content.

Elsewhere in its plastics strategy, Aldi UK has given its backing to a national deposit return scheme for plastic bottles, and is among a string of big-name retailers to have called for more recycling collection points, tax reliefs for recycled content and a universal list of acceptable materials as part of a desired regulation reform earlier this year.

Sarah George

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