If you've ever shopped for groceries at ALDI, you've probably noticed that the international supermarket chain is filled with plastic and non-recyclable packaging. But by 2025, every single product you see in ALDI will be either package-free or wrapped in recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging, as ALDI announced last year. That's because in addition to altering its own-label products, ALDI is now demanding its suppliers all comply with the new rules if they want to continue selling in ALDI stores.
As reported by Enviro30, ALDI UK's CEO Giles Hurley recently sent a letter to all of ALDI's vendors detailing the new policies. According to a spokesperson for ALDI, all ALDI stores in the U.S. will be shifting all over their own-label packaging to fit these guidelines, however U.S. ALDIs are not currently putting the same pressure on vendors that U.K. stores are.
In the letter, which Enviro30 accessed via The Grocer, Hurley's letter stated that it's “non-negotiable” for all suppliers to transition packaging to meet ALDI's new standards by 2025. Additionally, the company's decisions on whether to work with possible new vendors “will be based on our supply partners’ ability to lead and adapt in this area,” his letter read, as per Enviro30.
“Following receipt of this letter, your ALDI buying director will contact you directly to discuss what tangible actions you will take,” Hurley wrote in the letter, according to Enviro30. “I request that you speak openly with your buying contact to actively explore all opportunities to develop more innovative packaging solutions and deliver on our packaging commitments.”
This isn't being done to scare away suppliers — in fact, ALDI's team plans to help work with their suppliers to make this transition.
“We want to work with you to trial alternative materials, innovate new packaging solutions and crucially be open-minded to all options," Hurley continued. “I look forward to seeing the progress that we can achieve together, in this business-critical area.”
Many of the products ALDI sells are its own label, and Hurley told suppliers that all of those products will be in recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging by 2022. Additionally, as Hurley wrote in the letter, ALDI will soon trial bulk bins in its stores. Many other grocery stores and health food stores (including major chains like Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Fairway) already offer dry goods like rice, oats, nuts, and snacks as well as liquid goods like oils, vinegars, and soaps in package-free bulk sections.
To shop from bulk sections, customers can bring reusable jars, containers, or cotton bags from home into stores, and fill the receptacles up with any amount of each item. The tare weight of the empty container is subtracted at the register, to make sure customers are not overpaying. Shopping from bulk bins reduces packaging waste as well as food waste, since customers are able to get as little or as much as they need.
And finally, Hurley told suppliers that ALDI is phasing single-use produce bags out of its stores. As reported by FoodBev Media, in November 2019, some ALDI locations began trialling the sale of reusable produce bags for 25 pence ($0.32 USD).
If the trial goes well, all 800+ ALDI stores in the UK will transition away from disposable produce bags and to these reusable ones, which would "take more than 100 tonnes of plastic a year out of circulation," according to Fritz Walleczek, managing director of corporate responsibility of ALDI.
Let's hope all of ALDI's suppliers are up for the challenge!