How five international retailers are addressing sustainability

Date : 14 November 2019

Globally retailers are building their sustainable initiatives to reduce their environmental impact. We look at how five retailers are reducing the use of single use plastic.

Kaufland reduces plastic on meat packaging

Germany-based Kaufland announced its commitment to sustainability is a key focus for it. The retailer has targets set to achieve a reduction of its own plastic consumption of 20% by 2025. The group’s private label packaging is being produced from recycled plastic.

Kaufland has announced a reduction of plastic used in its meat packaging in October 2019. The retailer’s minced meat packaging contains 70% less plastic than the original and is available in 30 stores in southern Germany. The product’s price and quality will not change.

Kaufland has developed a packaging container made with a cardboard exterior and lined with a thin plastic foil. The retailer has separated the plastic and cardboard to allow the materials to be recycled separately. The packaging is made of 100% renewable resources and is FSC certified.


Kaufland’s new minced meat packaging
Source: Kaufland

Eroski launching sustainable initiatives

Spain-based Eroski plans to reduce single-use plastics by 20% and 100% of private label packaging to become recyclable, while eliminating over-packing and enhancing the use of recycled and renewable materials. The retailer has implemented a few sustainable approaches.

Eroski introduced sustainable packaging in the bakery category. The retailer replaced the plastic used in packaging trays with 100% recycled and recyclable PET plastic. Eroski claims it will help reduce consumption of 250 tonnes of virgin plastics annually.

The cooperative introduced reusable mesh bags to eliminate the use of plastic bags in the fresh fruits and vegetables category. The mesh bags are washable and can be reused a minimum of 20 times. The scheme will be available in some supermarkets initially and gradually expand into the whole network. The retailer claims the initiative could reduce consumption of 100 tonnes of plastic annually.

The cooperative has implemented an alternative to single-use plastic bags with the introduction of paper bags. The paper bags are FSC certified, which confirms the material is sustainably sourced and is 100% recyclable. In addition, Eroski will maintain the 70% recycled material bags alongside the paper bags.


Eroski’s reusable mesh bag alternative
Source: Eroski

Mercadona completes replacement of plastic bags

Spain-based Mercadona has completed its transition to replace its single-use plastic bags, from both its online channel and physical supermarkets. The retailer offers three different bag options; paper bags, raffia and those made of 50% to 70% recycled plastic from its in-store packaging. 

The retailer claims the initiative requires an annual reuse of 3,000 tonnes of plastic recovered from its supermarkets. Saica Natur turns Mercadona’s plastic waste into a new recycled resource.


Mercadona’s paper and recycled plastic bags
Source: Mercadona

Coles’ sustainable initiatives

Australia-based Coles has introduced two main initiatives, which highlights the reduction of single-use plastic and reducing its environmental impact. The group has stated in its first sustainability report it plans to intercept 90% of its waste by 2022.

In October 2019, the retailer began trialling, an initiative of zero waste to landfills starting in Wentworth Point, Sydney. The trial intends to change in-store processes to separate waste and to use waste as a resource. Coles donates unsold edible food to food charities and to farmers for animal feed.

In 2018, Coles began removing single-use plastic bags in all stores and aims for this to be completed in a year. In June 2019, the retailer announced 1.7 bn single-use plastic bags were diverted from landfills.

Reusable bags offered in store help to raise money for local charities including; SecondBite, athletic centres, guide dogs and clean up Australia. Coles claims their customers have changed shopping habits since introducing reusable bags.


Coles’ reusable bag
Source: Coles

Carrefour initiatives committed to building sustainability

France-based Carrefour has initiatives that help support reducing its environmental impact. The current schemes include the removal of plastic packaging by 2025, which aims to remove 140 tonnes of plastic annually.

The retailer aims to complete the removal of plastic trays in the cheese section and replace them with cardboard trays. Carrefour allows shoppers to bring in their own containers to purchase; butchers meat, cheese, fish and pastries.  Furthermore, cotton reusable mesh and paper bags have replaced plastic bags for loose fruit and vegetables.

Separately, the group will no longer package organic fair-trade bananas in plastic sachets. Alternatively, bananas will be packaged in an elastic band and eventually the bands will be made of paper. In addition, cucumbers packaging will be phased out and replaced with elastic bands.


Carrefour’s plastic-free loose fruit and vegetables
Source: IGD Research