11 Apr 2019  

METRO supports Democracy Alive Festival and discusses the role of businesses in the transition to a new plastics economy

On 11 April, METRO brought on stage representatives of the European commerce sector, the European Environmental Bureau, Coca-Cola and the Assembly of the European Regions to discuss the role of responsible businesses in the 21st century in a panel discussion with the title “Plastics…not so fantastic!”

In the run-up to the next European elections on 23-26 May, METRO carries on its long-standing cooperation with the European Movement International (EMI) and actively supports the DEMOCRACY ALIVE Festival, together with the European Parliament, European Investment Bank, Transparency International, Bertelsmann Stiftung, Google and many more.

 

METRO AG, in partnership with EMI, EuroCommerce and Forum Europe, organised a panel discussion with Detailhandel Nederland, CBL, Ahold Delhaize, the European Environmental Bureau, Coca-Cola and the Assembly of the European Regions, moderated by Neil McMillan, Eurocommerce’s Director of Advocacy and Public Affairs. The participants and guests of this special edition of the Wednesday Social were welcomed by the Mayor of Texel, Michiel Uitdehaag. The discussion that followed revolved about the topic of plastic use across society and the role of businesses, governments and citizens in finding possible solutions and ways forward.




 

Margriet Keijzer, Head of the Brussels Office of Detailhandel Nederland, emphasised in her opening speech that plastic littering is, indeed, a serious environmental problem, however, plastics per se are very useful and necessary especially in the food industry, where they fulfil very important functions, such as helping to prevent food waste. An idea also defended by Jan Ernst de Groot, Chief Legal Officer of Ahold Delhaize, who also emphasised the role of consumer behaviour in the reduction of plastic consumption.

On the other hand, Jeremy Wates, Secretary General of the European Environmental Bureau, mentioned that the main problem with plastic in our society lies on the fact that it is very convenient and cheaply produced but not correctly disposed and very rarely recycled. According to him, only binding legislation will make a different in the end, although voluntary industry agreements may also help. Raoul Boucke, candidate to the European Parliament for the Dutch liberal party D66, also supported this argument and highlighted the leading role of the European Union, not only in enacting legislation, but also in offering an example to follow to other regions of the world.

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Therese Noorlander, Coca-Cola’s Sustainability Director Europe, presented their commitments (“A world without waste”) to create packaging that contains at least 50% recycled material by 2030, and continue pursuing the goal to make all consumer packaging 100% recyclable by 2025. Coca-Cola -as well as METRO AG- has signed up the commitments of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to move to a new plastics economy. Marc Jansen, CBL Director, also highlighted that Dutch retailers have signed a plastic pact to cut down on the use of plastics and make 100% recyclable packaging by 2025. Finally, Magnus Berntsson, President of the Assembly of European Regions, emphasised the role of local communities and public procurement in achieving a more sustainable economy. Maria Heider, METRO AG Director for Public Policy Europe, highlighted in her closing remarks the diversity of views and opinions during the discussion and thanked all participants for their constructive engagement.

panel discussion in dialogue

For three days, from 11-13 April, DEMOCRACY ALIVE creates a space of exchange between citizens, civil society organisations and decision-makers to encourage civic engagement and increase interest in European democracy. Leading political figures such as Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, and Michel Barnier, European Commission’s main negotiator for Brexit were present. In times of increasing uncertainty, protectionism and divided societies, METRO wants to take a stand and show its clear commitment with the European project and the Single Market as guarantors of stability and growth. In words of Olaf Koch, Chairman of the Management Board of METRO AG: “Achievements that have been taken for granted – democracy as well as free movement of people, goods, services and capital – now need our attention and defence. (… )Europe must act united to attain progress – for people and business.”

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