Aldi targets plastic glitter phase-out by 2020

The phase-out will cover all of Aldi's UK and Ireland stores

The glitter phase-out will cover all of Aldi’s own-brand non-grocery lines sold in UK stores, including greetings cards, wrapping paper, seasonal decorations and art and craft supplies. It will see the glitter previously used in these products and their packaging removed altogether or replaced with a biodegradable alternative.

The first products to be affected by the commitment will be those included in Aldi’s Halloween 2019 range, which is due to launch this autumn. All Aldi Christmas cards and wrapping paper will also be free from plastic glitter this year.

The commitment will cover all of Aldi’s 825 UK stores, 130 Ireland stores and the 65 new stores the retailer is opening across these two markets this year.

“We want to be sure our customers can enjoy key events without compromising on sustainability,” Aldi UK and Ireland’s managing director of corporate responsibility Fritz Walleczek said. “This is why we’ve promised to remove all non-biodegradable glitter from all of our products by 2020.”

The move builds on Aldi’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. 

All that glitters isn’t gold

Despite its metallic appearance, most glitter is made up of tiny pieces of plastic, which can end up in the water where they are difficult to break down.

With policymakers, businesses and the general public now acutely aware of the plastic pollution crisis, the move from Aldi builds on a string of similar actions from other organisations.

In the retail sector, Waitrose & Partners recently pledged to remove glitter from all its own-brand lines by the end of 2020, with a particular focus on its Christmas lines of crackers, gift wrap and cards. Similarly, the likes of Next, Debenhams, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer (M&S) and Paperchase have all committed to reduce their use of plastic glitter.

Elsewhere, a number of nursery schools and music festivals are across the UK have already become glitter-free, while BBC 1’s Strictly Come Dancing has banned the use of traditional glitter on the programme for the first time in 2018.

Sarah George

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