Together with its national subsidiaries, the Düsseldorf-based wholesale and food specialist adopted a global voluntary self-commitment regarding the use of disposable plastics.
The figures are alarming: each year, up to 13 million tonnes of plastic waste end up in the world's oceans. If this trend continues, there will be more plastic floating in the oceans by 2050 than there are fish. We, at METRO, are aware of our responsibility and are focusing on significantly reduce our plastic footprint. And we are bringing our customers along.
By 2025, we will enable our customers and their companies to shape their future without conventional disposable plastics. We will achieve this by:
- offering reusable, recyclable or compostable alternative products;
- supporting our clients in the transition phase;
- promote thing development towards a circular, recycling economy
A clear signal came at the beginning of 2018 from Brussels: The European Commission set up in its Plastic Strategy the ambitious target to make all plastic packaging recyclable or reusable until 2030. To reduce marine litter, the Commission proposed last May further EU-wide rules and measures targeting single-use plastic (SUP) products, including the ban of cutlery, plates, straws and drink stirrers. For other products, where non-plastic alternatives are not widely available yet, for example food containers used for take-away purposes or in catering, the focus will be on limiting their use through reduction targets.
Offering reusable, recyclable or compostable alternative products
All these items and products play a crucial role and are extensively used by many of our 21 million customers in the hotel, restaurant and catering sectors use disposable products daily - from napkins to take-out boxes. We want to accompany our clients and help them make more environmental friendly choices and progressively phase out single use plastic products.
However, we are also aware that sustained changes require time. Therefore, we have set 2025 as year target. By then, conventional disposable plastic products shall be replaced by reusable, recyclable or compostable alternatives. This way, the transition to a closed circular, recycling system will be promoted.
Moreover, we offer advice and information to help our customers choose the right materials for their needs, give them tips on how to properly dispose them and provide them with information that will help them communicate with their own clients.
Reducing our footprint through operations and improved packaging
At this point, it is also important to stress that the main function of packaging is to preserve the product. This is especially important in food distribution, where product safety is of utmost importance. Food safety and hygienic regulations must be the priority when designing packaging for food products. It is, thus, necessary to avoid conflict and mismatches between different policy objectives. Moreover, packaging also serves to reduce the amount of food waste by significantly improving the shelf-life of food. Indeed, one of the essential features of METRO is the quality and freshness of the products we offer. This means, we must ensure that the product packaging is designed and selected in such a way that the food we sell meets the highest quality and safety requirements - from the producer through the transport to the market and to our customer's kitchen.
Consequently, we are also working together with suppliers towards the optimisation of the packaging of our own-brand products. Up to the end of 2018, 11 METRO countries are reviewing more than 10,000 own-brand products for optimisation and savings potential based on the 3R concept: 'reduce, renew, recycle'. PVC, PVDC and EPS are to be replaced by more environmentally friendly plastics. High-quality, recyclable materials and biodegradable packaging will be used instead. Packaging materials have been reduced by more than 400 tonnes since 2014. And already today, 100% of the SIG and Tetra Pak drinks packaging sold by METRO Germany has FSC (Forest Stewardship Council®) certification.
Heiko Hutmacher, Member of the Management Board of METRO AG responsible for sustainability
For us, acting sustainably means to not only look for quick wins but, rather, to systematically work towards positive change.
Partnerships for the goals
“For us, acting sustainably means to not only look for quick wins but, rather, to systematically work towards positive change”, says Heiko Hutmacher, Member of the Management Board of METRO AG responsible for Sustainability. The company pursues a comprehensive sustainability strategy. “Important elements in this regard are an extensive range of alternatives to conventional plastic products and purposefully promoting closed-loop material cycles”, continues Hutmacher.
Indeed, all the actors within the supply chain are aware that complex challenges such as reducing plastic waste can only be overcome as a joint effort. This is why METRO engages in dialogue with the packaging industry, lawmakers, waste disposal companies and NGOs in order to identify new solutions. Against this backdrop, METRO hosted a round table event under the heading “Unser Ausweg aus dem Einweg” (“Our way out of the one-way”) to discuss about the challenges, opportunities and potential solutions with various stakeholders from the fields of recycling, disposable products, hospitality as well as from EU politics and representatives of METRO Germany on 20 September 2018.