SUPPORTING SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES
Food retailers and wholesalers take action to support sustainable operations through sector or company initiatives, reducing resource use and the environmental impacts of our operations. We innovate on packaging, help consumers and suppliers reduce food waste and phase out chemicals.
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Jerónimo Martins strengthens social support
To fight hunger and malnutrition, while backing educational and social organisations, the Group has been supporting several causes that impact the most vulnerable groups in society: children, young people and the elderly. In 2020, a direct support of 47.6 million euros (10% more than in 2019) was allocated to those priorities, reaching more than 1 million people from over 1,000 charities. The Group’s stores in Poland, Portugal and Colombia donate surplus food that fully comply with food safety conditions, but that cannot be sold, to charities working close with people in vulnerable situations. In 2020, food donations increased 19% to over 18,600 tonnes.
ZeroPlastica Esselunga: A plastic reduction of 137 tons
Ongoing interventions on sustainability in the fruits & vegetables sector in 2019 included the introduction of compostable film and labelling, but the main initiative was Esselunga FeVBio: obiettivo ZeroPlastica, i.e., a move to plastic free, sustainable, compostable and/or recyclable packaging for organic products. The conversion to the new packaging will end in 2021; new sustainable materials will be used for packaging and labelling of organic fruit and vegetables and packaging production will also be improved to reduce waste. The project will save 137t of plastic and will also facilitate recycling, as all packaging will be disposable either as food waste or paper.
German retailer EDEKA & Apeel cut retail food waste by 50%
In August 2020, EDEKA and Apeel released the results of a pilot project rolled out in 2.900 EDEKA and Netto Marken-Discount stores in Germany. Apeel has developed a plant-based protective coating that keeps fruit and vegetables fresh longer and extends quality and shelf life across the supply chain. EDEKA experienced a 50% reduction in food waste in the avocado category and a 20% increase in sales. Following the successful pilot, EDEKA introduced Apeel produces at more than 11.000 EDEKA and Netto stores. In partnership with their suppliers, EDEKA and Apeel plan to introduce additional longer-lasting produce categories and thus strengthen their commitment to sustainability.
The IKEA Food Waste Initiative: “Food Is Precious”
The first IKEA restaurant opened in 1959, and today 680 million people enjoy its food offer around the world. With this size comes a big responsibility – and an opportunity. In 2017, IKEA set a goal to reduce production food waste in all IKEA stores globally by 50% by the end of FY20. While the company did not reach that goal, IKEA did achieve some great results and implemented food waste solutions in more than 60% of all stores globally, resulting in an average waste reduction of 32%. That equals more than 10 million meals not wasted. Everyday IKEA is diminishing food waste and the ambition is now to diminish the production food waste by 50% by the end of 2022 in all IKEA stores globally.
Our separation instructions at Kaufland and Lidl provide orientation for correct disposal
To make it easier for Kaufland and Lidl customers to separate packaging, we have developed our own separation instructions. We conducted a representative survey in Germany which showed that most respondents are aware of waste separation, at least in theory. However, the correct disposal of packaging consisting of several components is often not yet clear to them. Our separation instructions are designed to give consumers clear guidance directly on the product and can be adopted by many of our national companies. With the separation instructions we support our holistic plastics strategy REset Plastic by enabling customers to separate and dispose of packaging correctly and improving the quality of recyclables.
Carrefour acting against plastic packaging
Carrefour Group is a signatory of the French national pact on plastic packaging as well as of the European Plastic Pact. It has initiated numerous concrete actions, in all the countries in which it operates, which has made possible to avoid the placing on the market of 4,095 tonnes of plastic packaging since 2017. In this context, Carrefour has set itself the objective of using 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging for its private labels' products by 2025.
Balancing fish supply with marine life conservation
To ensure that our businesses are not contributing to the overexploitation of fish stocks, we assess every three years the conservation status of over 200 species sold through our Perishables and Private Brand products. The risk is defined in accordance with the IUCN Red List and the level of exploitation of the stocks.
The Group adopts different strategies depending on whether species are classified as “vulnerable”, “endangered” or "critically endangered". One example is that of the European eel, classified as "critically endangered". We do not sell this species because, although from aquaculture, production systems depend on the collection of "juveniles" (glass eels) from natural environments, continuing to put pressure on wild populations.
Over 300 tons of plastic saved thanks to new own-brand product packaging
In 2020, K Group has brought changes to the packaging of 77 of its own brand products and reduced plastic in the packaging of their own brand products by a total of 214 tonnes. K Group’s objective is to reduce plastic in its own brand product packaging and make all the packaging either recyclable, biodegradable or reusable by the end of 2025. K Group encourages its customers to recycle used packaging by choosing suitable packaging materials and providing more easily understandable instructions for sorting. K Group not only engages in its own packaging development, but also collaborates with others, with the aim of adding products with innovative material.
Mercadona facilitates the most basic needs of 12,900 families in Spain
An Ecodes study has quantified the social benefit generated by the company at €42.5 million. Mercadona collaborated in the year 2018 with a total of 170 social canteens and other entities, among which it has distributed more than 8,300 tons of food worth €11.5 million. According to the report, thanks to this initiative, which is part of its social collaboration project, 12,900 families benefited from this support. The study based on SROI (social return on investments in its acronym in English) reflects that the program carried out by the retailer generates a clear multiplier effect until reaching a contribution in 2018 that, indirectly, exceeded €42.5 million in social returns.
SuperValu Launches New Reusable Fruit, Veg & Bakery Bags
SuperValu is part of the Musgrave Group, Ireland's largest grocery and food distributor. In 2020, it has launched a new, reusable fruit, vegetables, and bakery bag, which is washable and certified food safe. The new bags are a sustainable alternative for customers, who can reuse the shopping bags for their next visit to their local SuperValu. SuperValu is working hard to offer its’ customers sustainable choices with continuous measures being introduced to meet this. The chain is on a mission to make packaging as sustainable as possible as part of their commitment to making 100% of its own-brand, fresh produce and in-store packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.
Carrefour's widescale and well-established policy of donating to charities
Carrefour recovers food products excluded from sale through donations to charitable organizations, which in 2019 represented the equivalent of 105 million meals distributed free of charge around the world. In Italy, the Carrefour foundation supports the project of the seventh social table "Refettorio" by Food for Soul, the objective of which is to serve meals to the poorest in aesthetic and friendly places. Carrefour Italy and “Fondazione Banco Alimentare” have also set up the collection of fresh products in all Carrefour stores in Italy.
REWE Group Packaging Strategy reduces plastic use by more than 9,000 tons a year at REWE and PENNY alone
In a bid to make private-label packaging more eco-friendly, REWE Group adopted the Packaging Strategy “Avoid, Reduce and Improve”. To this end, suitable approaches and potential for improvement have been discussed with stakeholders and in internal workshops, and identified through strategic product range analysis. Company packaging guidelines describe the roadmap towards achieving the goal of 100% environmentally-friendly private-label packaging by the end of 2030. This objective is defined by additional goal posts such as 20 % less plastic in the sales and service packaging of REWE and PENNY private-label products in Germany by the end of 2025. By the end of 2021, all PET packaging for washing and cleaning products is to be made from 100% recycled materials, including at least 20% sourced from household waste.
Metro commits to eliminate 50% of wasted food in its own operations by 2025
The reduction of food waste is a core aspect of METRO’s sustainability strategy. METRO has committed to eliminate 50% of wasted food in its own operations by the year 2025. In the 22 countries in which the wholesaler operates, it cooperates with food service organizations and social institutions to avoid food waste in its’ stores, restaurants, and warehouses. In Germany, Metro has been collaborating with the foodbank “Die Tafel” for over 20 years. In 2018, METRO Germany donated about 8 Million meals to people in need. In Romania, METRO and some retailers have built a food banks network together with the European Food Banks Federation (FEBA).
Ahold Delhaize working with others to reduce food waste under the 10x20x30 initiative
In September 2019, Ahold Delhaize became a founding partner of the World Resources Institute's (WRI) 10x20x30 initiative, which brings together 10 global food retailers who have each committed to engage with 20 of their priority suppliers to halve their rates of food loss and waste by 2030. This private sector commitment is designed to be a significant advancement toward the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 12.3, which calls for a 50% reduction in food loss and waste by 2030 worldwide. Over the first year, this group of retailers has engaged a total of almost 200 suppliers to join the effort and address this global challenge.
Driving forward the Mobility Revolution
The Schwarz Group is investing in the expansion of electric charging infrastructure. Currently, more than 2,100 charging stations for electric vehicles are already available at the stores of the retail companies Lidl and Kaufland. Numerous other stores will be successively equipped with charging stations. Here, customers can charge their car while shopping. The Schwarz Group is the operator of a large electric charging infrastructure network and a supporter of the mobility transition. When expanding the electric charging infrastructure, the Schwarz Group relies on an intelligent mix of AC and DC charging stations of different performance classes. Depending on the location and vehicle type, users of electric vehicles can increase the range of their vehicle by up to 200 kilometers during a thirty-minute shopping trip.
Sonae develops platform to combat food waste
Portuguese retail group Sonae plans to develop an innovative digital platform to help combat waste in stores. The LIFEFood Cycle project will facilitate the digital management of surplus goods, optimising donations to charities and selling food products close to sell by date to business partners at a lower price.The project, which aims to improve the sustainability of the food system, has been developed in consortium with Phenix, and co-financed by the EU’s LIFE programme. In 2019, €12.3 million in food surpluses were donated to welfare institutions and animal support associations. All Continente stores have partnerships in place with one or more local institutions for the donation of food surpluses.
INTERSPAR Austria trials filling stations for organic food products
INTERSPAR is Austria’s first major food retailer to offer filling stations for unpackaged and loose organic food products, such as cereals, nuts, and pulses as well as pasta, rice, and dried fruit. Plastic reduction is high on SPAR Austria’s sustainability agenda. In January 2020, INTERSPAR started to trial filling stations for bio-certified laundry and dishwashing detergents and already over 40% percent of the fruit and vegetable range at SPAR and INTERSPAR stores in Austria is unpacked. To make products that are plastic-free or contain less plastic easily recognisable, many products are labelled with the logo ‘Saving plastic together with SPAR’.
Carrefour committed to reducing its food waste by 50% by 2025
Carrefour stores are deploying solutions to sell products rather than wasting them: repackaging items; offering baskets of unsold goods at low prices; creating short-term promotions; and deploying aisle displays dedicated to products with a use-by date that has passed. in 2019, Carrefour has managed to reduce food waste by 10% (vs. 2016). The group also provides its customers with the Too Good To Go application, which uses smartphones to identify unsold food baskets at low prices. In 2019, Too Good To Go was rolled out in 2,624 stores across France, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Poland and enabled the group to save enabled us to save more than a million meals since 2017.
"Smart Branding" for 50 tons less plastic per year
EDEKA is taking actions to eliminate packaging wherever possible, to reduce packaging and to increase the recyclability as well as the proportion of recycled material used in packaging. Doing so allows greenhouse gas emissions and the climate footprint to be reduced. For example, a wide range of organic fruit and vegetables are now being sold without labels. Thanks to the "smart branding" technology, a high-resolution laser is used to apply writing and logo directly onto the fruit. Only pigments on the outer skin are removed so taste, shelf life and appearance remain perfect. Thanks to this technology, 50 million labels (equivalent to 50 tons of packaging material) is saved per year.
Over 100,000 tonnes of "Ugly" fruits and vegetables integrated in the value chain
Jerónimo Martins is committed to reducing 50% of the food waste associated with its operations by 2030, in line with goal 12.3 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. We buy non-standard size vegetables from suppliers, which are used in the soups sold in our Polish and Portuguese chains or are transformed into food solutions such as pre-cut and washed ready-to-use vegetables. Also, Recheio Cash & Carry sells “ugly” unprocessed fruit at reduced prices. Jerónimo Martins Agro-Alimentar also sources by-products from the food industry and non-standard vegetables to be incorporated into the cattle feed. Between 2015 and 2020, 102,450 tonnes of “ugly” products were recovered from being waste.
Mercadona to invest €140 million over 5 years to reduce plastic through its 6.25 Strategy.
The chain began its work on this strategy in 2019 by involving all company workers in the challenge of "Continuing to Take Care of the Planet", by making various processes in the assembly line more sustainable. The 6.25 Strategy has the triple objective for 2025 of reducing plastic by 25%, making all packaging recyclable and recycling all plastic waste. In 2020, Mercadona had converted 72 stores into 6.25 Stores, in which progress can already be observed. The retailer will also train its 90,000 employees and has transmitted the objectives of the Strategy to its suppliers, who are already working on developing them further together with Mercadona.
Championing customers by innovating in packaging and plastic
With its own brand packaging, Metro strives to reduce the environmental impact during a product’s entire life cycle. Metro actively seek alternatives for conventional plastic while ensuring that it meets the high quality and hygiene standards its customers expect. Through multi-stakeholder dialogue Metro works on developing innovative solutions to drive closed-loop recycling management and less impactful materials. Since May 2019 in Austria, the packaging for METRO Chef brand bakery has been made from FSC® certified carton with a recyclable cellulose viewing window. Plastic use in this range has subsequently been reduced by 100%.
SME retailers with a Super Supermarket Certificate organise campaigns against food waste
Together against food waste, matter of doing! Preventing food waste is an important topic under the Super Supermarket Certificate (SSK). SSK is the Dutch certification for independent SME food retailers who are both locally and socially involved. An awareness campaign encourages customers not to take the products with the longest shelf life. Products to be consumed within two days are labelled with a specific sticker to make customers more aware of their role in tackling food waste. It is more difficult for some product categories. In collaboration with Wageningen University, a pilot program is conducted to use residual flows of bread as an ingredient to produce a high-quality, local and sustainable beer. A complete practical manual with a step-by-step plan for brewing beer is available for SSK certified retailers.
Towards a reduction of 10,000 tonnes of packaging by 2025
Carrefour is working to reduce the overpackaging associated with promotional lots and individual portions in all departments. Plastic-free packaging is tested in bakery. For toys, bakery, and light bulb categories, 238 tonnes of packaging had already been removed by the end of 2019. The Group's objective is to save 10,000 tonnes of packaging by 2025. Carrefour also took the decision to remove unnecessary packaging from organic fruits and vegetables. Another point of focus is developing reusable packaging: Carrefour has rolled out the "Bring your container" initiative, offering customers the option of bringing their own packaging & France and Spain will be offering, from 2020, the sale of reusable organic cotton bags.
Pioneering solutions: SPAR Austria slashes food waste, encourages food sharing
Each discarded food item is one too many. To avoid any such loss, SPAR stores throughout Austria donate food that has reached its sell-by date but is still edible to about 200 different social institutions or food sharers. Standing at just 1%, the amount of unsold food items at SPAR Austria is particularly low. Purchasing, storage and transport systems at SPAR are aimed at keeping food wastage at an absolute minimum. SPAR stores cooperate with social organisations, local food banks or food sharing initiatives on a voluntary basis. According to a report by the Austrian Climate Protection Ministry, 12,250 tonnes of food are donated to social organisations through retailers every year.
Sustainable packaging based on the silphium plant at Kaufland
Kaufland is introducing new packaging based on the silphium plant in the Fruit & Vegetable department. The first Kaufland own brand products offered in the innovative packaging will be cress, white and brown mushrooms, and tomatoes. Silphium is an energy crop that is exclusively used to produce biogas. We use a biothermal method to separate the plant fibers before bioenergy generation which enables its use as a new raw material. Besides replacing paper and cardboard packaging, silphium plant products will also be tested as an alternative to conventional plastic packaging in the future.
Belgian retail association Comeos launches food donation brochure
With the Flemish Region and the Region of Brussels, the Belgian Retail association Comeos signed commitments with the objectives to (amongst others) reduce food waste and to enhance food donations. To facilitate the latter, Comeos created a first food donation brochure in 2015, showing the different platforms for food donation, the food safety measures, food quality standards, financial benefits etc. When the brochure was updated in 2019, Comeos observed a threefold increase in food donations by Belgian supermarkets between 2015 and 2018, suggesting that food donation systems has been successfully implemented by Belgian retailers.
ECO: the eco-friendly reusable water bottle
By providing reusable plastic bottles and filtered water stations, the ECO concept is an innovative project in Portugal that avoided about 180 tonnes of single-use plastic in under two years. The aim is to promote more conscious consumption habits by reducing single-use plastics. After purchasing an ECO bottle (1.5 or 3 litres), the consumer can go to a refilling station in a Pingo Doce store and reuse its bottle with filtered tap water – each bottle has an estimated service life of a thousand refills. The ECO project was launched in 2018 and, two years later, it had reached almost 140 stores in Portugal.
The best practices featured in this website are only a few examples of the numerous actions taken every day by food retailers and wholesalers. There are many more in the annual and/or sustainability reports. We have assembled the ones from our members below :