Reducing the Plastic Footprint

02 October 2018
The trade sector is cutting out plastic with more than just the carrier bag.

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.

Take, make, waste’

It’s clear what needs to be done – the use of plastic must be reduced and the ‘take, make, waste’ attitude of taking raw materials to make products that are then used and thrown away must be urgently reconsidered. The trade sector is aware of its responsibility and is focusing on reducing waste throughout the supply chain.

It’s about more than just plastic bags

The plastic carrier bag is the bestknown example when it comes to combating plastic waste. In 2017, METRO Germany replaced disposable bags at the checkout with sustainable reusable carrier bags made out of recycled plastic bottles. Real likewise completely dispensed with plastic bags in 2017. This has eliminated 49 million plastic carrier bags a year – that’s the equivalent of 940 tonnes of plastic. METRO is working towards reducing plastic and packaging waste in areas other than at the checkout, optimising everything from the design of its own-brand products to the transport of goods as well as in the fruit and vegetable aisle.

‘Reduce, renew, recycle’

It starts with product packaging: 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.

Plastic reduction in the stores ...

In the stores, it is obvious that plastic plays a major role in other areas too. Pallets need to be optimally secured in order to be distributed efficiently, and this is usually achieved with the help of laminate film which is then cut at the store and disposed of. METRO Austria and METRO Hungary are currently testing alternatives such as reusable film and transport bags that encase the pallets like large carrier bags. Taking a look at the array of fruit and vegetables at the Markthalle Krefeld highlights other reduction opportunities – the hypermarket offers reusable mesh bags as an alternative to plastic tie bags. New concepts for packaging-free shopping are also currently being tested.

... and beyond

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. METRO engages in dialogue with the packaging industry, lawmakers, waste disposal companies and NGOs in order to identify new solutions. The employees have a decisive role to play here too. On World Oceans Day 2018, METRO launched an internal awareness campaign and has since informed its employees about ways in which to reduce the use of plastic using the hashtag #METROPlasticFighters.

Plastic Bag
Less plastic in the supply chain