If you’re like me, you cringe when you see people leaving the grocery store with a cart full of items in plastic bags.
The problem is that even if these people dutifully dispose of these plastic bags in designated recycling receptacles, only a small percentage of it (up to 20 percent) will be recycled . Fortunately, there’s some good news when it comes to those plastic bags because the grocery store chain ALDI is seeking to change the way they do plastics.
ALDI US serves more than 40 million customers each month in 35 states, and the grocery chain is making a big leap towards being friendly to the environment. Since ALDI stores sell 90 percent of their own products, they’re able to make a commitment to drastically change their packaging in the next six years.
Since grocery stores have a huge influence over our plastic consumption in the United States, ALDI is setting a great example for other stores to make changes as well. So what exactly is ALDI doing?
Here Are ALDI’s Goals by 2025
According to a press release from ALDI, by 2025, the company says 100 percent of their packaging will be reusable, recyclable, or compostable. Yes, this includes plastics! ALDI has also made a commitment to reduce their packaging material on all products by 15 percent.
What Else Is ALDI Doing to Protect the Environment?
ALDI says it has never offered single-use grocery bags, saying they’ve kept an estimated 15 billion bags out of the environment by doing so. ALDI is clearly showing that people can still buy groceries without plastic bags and that grocery stores don’t need to offer these items to appease customers.
Jason Hart, CEO of ALDI US, says, “We want to continue to do more. The commitments we’re making to reduce plastic packaging waste are an investment in our collective future that we are proud to make.”
ALDI has been busy with its environmental efforts. In 2018, ALDI partnered with How2Recycle in an effort to better educate its customers on how to recycle packaging. ALDI also recycled over 250,000 tons of materials last year, which is the greenhouse gas equivalent of over eight million gallons of gasoline.
These initiatives are part of the ALDI Corporate Responsibility program, which aims to reduce food waste, support communities, and provide natural disaster relief by partnering with Feeding America .
ALDI is setting an excellent example for other grocery stores in the United States to do more not just for the environment, but for their people and their communities in a way that can benefit us all.
Only Nine Percent of Plastics Were Recycled Between 1950 and 2015
Unfortunately, data shows that only 9 percent of plastics were actually recycled in the last 65 years . Plastics used for containers and packaging produced the most plastic waste—over 14 million tons in 2015 .
“It’s important that ALDI US and other retailers act with the greatest urgency and ambition to eliminate problematic plastics. While the company might intend to make packaging recyclable or composted, it does not mean that packaging will actually be recycled or composted,” says Greenpeace Senior Oceans Campaigner David Pinsky says.
“We encourage ALDI US to accelerate efforts to reduce throwaway plastics and build systems of reuse for the sake of our planet and communities impacted by the pollution crisis.”
It’s important to note that the number of plastics being recycled is increasing as we noted earlier in our 20 percent figure. These positive changes ALDI is making are long overdue, but of course, shouldn’t be downplayed!
How You Can Help
Many people are unaware of just how common plastic is in our everyday life. Plastic is found in disposable diapers, shower curtains, medical devices, personal care product packaging, gum (yes, gum), non-biodegradable glitter, and jar lids .
Fortunately, there are so many things you can do to reduce your plastic use and help the planet to be a part of the efforts individuals and companies like ALDI are making to stop these harmful products from ending up in our oceans and landfills.
Here are just a few of the things you can do:
- Give up plastic straws. If you love using straws, invest in stainless steel ones you can reuse.
- Use reusable shopping bags and produce bags. This is such an easy switch—I promise you’ll never go back.
- Purchase food from bulk bins. You can even use a reusable container while doing so for an even bigger impact.
- Use a reusable bottle for your water. Whether at home or going out, bring a reusable bottle with you to reduce plastic bottle waste.
- Don’t use plastic at home. It’ll actually be better for your health to store leftovers in glass. Invest in some glass containers!
- Buy fresh fruits and veggies. Do this instead of buying ones already cut and pre-packaged.
- Bring your own coffee mug or travel mug when getting coffee. Many coffee shops even offer a discount when you bring your own container!
- Don’t use plastic bags for storing food. Glass containers or jars work just as well and will last so much longer!
- Use wood cutting boards instead of plastic. I think they look nicer and work better myself.
- Use cloth diapers instead of conventional ones. Your baby will thank you when they grow up!
While us as consumers can make the necessary changes to reduce our plastic consumption and make the world a better place, companies need to make their own stand as well in an effort to not only influence customers to take more responsibility for the planet but to first practice the efforts themselves to make a difference.
- “FAQs on Plastics.” Our World in Data
- “Waste and Recycling.” Aldi
- “A whopping 91% of plastic isn’t recycled.”National Geographic. Laura Parker. December 20, 2018
- “Facts and Figures about Materials, Waste and Recycling.” EPA
- “11 Surprising Items That Contain Plastic.” Moral Fibres
- “ALDI Announces Commitments to Plastic Packaging Reduction.” Aldi