CEO reveals goal in customer letter featuring progress in other areas of sustainability.
By guest author Bridget Goldschmidt, Managing Editor of Progressive Grocer.
In a letter to customers, Aldi U.S. CEO Jason Hart revealed a new commitment to remove all plastic shopping bags from stores by the end of 2023, which, according to the company, equates to the elimination of 4400 tons of plastic from the environment every year. The deep-discount grocer has already removed plastic shopping bags from almost 500 stores and is on track to phasing them out of all 2200 U.S. locations by the close of next year.
According to Hart, Aldi is the first major U.S retailer to commit to eliminating all plastic shopping bags from stores.
The customer letter also included the company’s inaugural Corporate Responsibility Progress Report, which came out just one year after Aldi unveiled updated sustainability goals. The report highlights the progress that the company has made in lowering its greenhouse-gas emissions, diverting operational waste, and reducing food waste and packaging, while continuing to responsibly source products and provide support to local communities.
Among the report’s highlights:
- Aldi has considerably reduced its use of plastic and boosted the recyclability of its packaging so that more than 62 % of Aldi-exclusive packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable.
- The company earned more EPA GreenChill store certifications than all grocery retailers in the nation combined for the second consecutive year, and continued to purchase green electricity to cover 100 % of its energy consumption.
- The grocer donated more than 33 million pounds of food through its partnership with Feeding America, and 72000 pounds of household products through its partnership with Good360. Aldi also diverted 74 % of operational waste company-wide that would otherwise go to landfills, through increased donations, recycling programs and composting pilots.
In related news, following successful pilot programs at stores in New York, Massachusetts, Maryland and Virginia, Wegmans Food Markets said it would eliminate plastic bags company-wide by the end of the year, while Giant Eagle relaunched its effort to remove single-use plastic bags across its operations, beginning with stores in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and Erie, Pa. Neither of these well-known regional grocers has the reach of Aldi’s U.S. operations, however.
Operating in 38 states, Batavia, Ill.-based Aldi U.S. is No. 24 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans, operating 106 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts and North Carolina, is No. 35 on PG’s list. Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle, with more than 470 stores throughout western Pennsylvania, Ohio, northern West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana, was recently included in Progressive Grocer’s Top 10 Regional Operators to Watch and is No. 37 on The PG 100.