Naked vegetables: Aldi extends plastic-free fresh produce trial to England

Aldi has pledged to ensure all packaging on its own-label is reusable

The supermarket began selling loose savoy cabbage, red cabbage, white cabbage, pointed cabbage and cauliflower as part of a six-week trial scheme in Scotland in March 2019. Following the success of the trial, 230 stores in the North East and South East of England will implement a similar initiative in early July.

If successful, Aldi plans to roll out the plastic-free produce lines to all stores before the end of the year. The company estimates that a nationwide rollout would avoid the use of more than 100 tonnes of plastic a year, without increasing food waste.

Aldi UK and Ireland’s managing director of corporate responsibility, Fritz Walleczek, said: “The trial of so-called ‘naked’ vegetables has had a very positive reception in Scotland and, as a result, we’re now looking to extend this trial into two of our regions in England.

“Cutting waste is at the heart of what we do. Where we can, our aim is to remove unnecessary plastic entirely without leading to unnecessary food waste. Where we can’t do that, we are committed to ensuring that packaging doesn’t end up as waste by ensuring that all ours is recyclable, reusable or compostable.”

Plastic pledges

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. Other pledges include reducing plastic packaging by 25% by the end of 2023.

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, including all fruit and vegetable, that will replace more than 300 tonnes of the hard-to-recycle material each year. Eliminating polystyrene discs from its own-brand pizzas and re-designing all packaging for its Ashfield Farm meat products have also been prioritised.

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.

Matt Mace

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