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%.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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’.


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.


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.


"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.


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.


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.


Continente’s ECO brand provides greener choices

In 2022, Sonae also strengthen the development of its Continente ECO brand, in line with So-nae’s compromise to achieve 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable plastic packaging on pri-vate label products. Continente ECO detergents are Ecolabel certified and are all designed to be more environmentally friendly, including the packaging that is carefully designed to use less plastic, with higher percentages of recycled plastic and to be recyclable. The retailer developed a website, Plástico Responsável, as part of its strategy to disseminate information and raise awareness of MC’s initiatives to mitigate the use of plastic. Furthermore, MC invites everyone to participate with innovative ideas to improve its packaging by making an easy-to-use website available and offering rewards for the best suggestions.


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.


Continente stores innovate in detergent, dry food and animal food “refills”

‘Refill Spot by Continente’ is a new space, inaugurated in Continente stores, that features au-tomated bulk sales and self-service, which allows customers to reuse packaging when purchas-ing a set of products (detergents, dry foods and food for cats and dogs) and promote packaging savings and circularity. Detergent refills are available in 6 ecological and biodegradable product references, some of which are Ecolabel certified, under the ‘Greendet’ brand. The food refill can be dispensed into “Smart Cups”, in reusable packaging, equipped with an NFC tag that communicates with the dispenser and stores information about the packaging and the product being purchased.


Example of bulky products packaging

Problem: bulky products that do not have their own sales packaging. The assortment in the online trade is extremely versatile, which was especially important during the pandemic.

important for supplying the population during the pandemic. It should therefore be borne in mind that online retailers also ship products that are bulky and, by their very nature, have empty space, or cannot be packed into an or cannot be packed into a square shipping carton without empty space.

Examples of products that have so far been sold entirely without sales packaging in the picture. 

Mathematical example using the basketball:

  • Diameter 19 cm: Volume therefore = 3,591.3 cm³.
  • plus 40% = 5,027 cm³ permitted packaging volume
  • But package (cube) edge length 19 cm = 6,859 cm ³ = violation, 1,832 cm³ too much.
  • Even with an exactly fitting cube-shaped shipping package (which does not actually exist), you would have 73.3% empty space when shipping a basketball.