Aldi to remove single-use plastic bags from fruit and veg aisles

Aldi currently distributes more than 100 tonnes of single-use plastic produce bags in the UK and Ireland annually. Image: Aldi

The company claims that the move will mitigate the use of more than 100 tonnes of hard-to-recycle plastics every year. Plastic bags are not collected for recycling by most local authorities, as their layered structure and the fact that they are lightweight and flexible makes them difficult to process.

Instead of replacing the bags with single-use alternatives made from other materials, as brands such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s are doing, Aldi will be encouraging shoppers to bring their own reusable bags or containers.

Customers arriving at stores without reusables will have the option to buy reusable drawstring produce bags for 25p each. Aldi first trialled these bags, which are made using recycled plastic, in 250 stores last winter. Trials were scaled back to 100 stores this year due to Covid-19 but ultimately proved successful.

Aldi UK & Ireland’s plastics and packaging director Chris McKenry called the move “a critical part” of the supermarket’s vision of using half as much plastic packaging in 2025 than it did in 2018.

“We’ve already made good headway with removing and replacing avoidable plastics across our product range, but now it is time to step things up when it comes to bags and providing our customers with sustainable alternatives,” he said.

Plastics action

Since launching its updated plastics strategy in 2018, Aldi has removed more than 6,000 tonnes of plastic packaging from products, including flexible sleeves on multipack tinsexpanded polystyrene pizza bases and fruit and vegetable multipacks.

It estimates that meeting its new 2025 target will mitigate the use of 74,000 tonnes of plastic over the next five years.

While the target only covers own-brand lines, Aldi UK & Ireland’s chief executive Giles Hurley wrote to third-party suppliers earlier this year, warning that they will be delisted unless they align with the supermarket’s ambitions.

Recent weeks have seen a number of new plastics-related commitments announced and milestones reached in the corporate space. You can read edie’s round-up of these announcements and analysis of what they may mean for plastics action post-lockdown in this exclusive feature.

Sarah George

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