Aldi commits to getting rid of plastic shopping bags

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Dive Brief:

  • Aldi US announced on Thursday a commitment to do away with plastic shopping bags from its stores in the United States, a move the grocer said will remove 4,400 tons of plastic from circulation each year. 
  • So far, the retailer has eliminated bags from nearly 500 stores and aims to have them completely gone from its 2,200 locations by the end of next year, according to a public letter to customers from CEO Jason Hart. 
  • Aldi tied the announcement to sustainability goals the retailer set in March 2021, which address greenhouse gas emissions, operational waste, food waste and other aspects of its operations.

Dive Insight:

While many retailers are working to phase out their single-use plastic bags, Aldi currently charges shoppers for plastic bag that are reusable — a practice that has so far saved 15 billion reusable plastic bags from ending up in landfills and oceans, according to the discount grocer’s sustainability progress report.

Hart’s letter did not outline what alternatives Aldi plans to offer customers once it eliminates these plastic bags, but the retailer currently has cloth bags available in stores.

Aldi’s broader sustainability goals, outlined in the report issued last year, include reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26% by 2025, diverting 90% of operational waste by 2025 and reducing food waste by 50% by 2030.

In its newly released progress report, which Hart linked to in the letter, Aldi outlined another new sustainability commitment: to use 20% post-consumer recycled content in its own plastic packaging by 2025.

Aldi also shared in the report that it’s trialing produce packaging that uses less plastic than its traditional packaging. 

Along with working on removing plastics, Harts’ letter listed progress Aldi has made on other sustainability areas in the past year, including installing more rooftop solar panels atop stores and distribution centers; diverting 74% of operational waste company-wide through more donations, recycling programs and composting; and donating more than 33 million pounds of food through Feeding America. 

Aldi said in the report that it plans to add solar panels to an additional 60 stores and one distribution center this year. Currently, 120 stores and 12 distribution centers have solar panels on them. 

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