Packaging and plastic
Content over package
For restaurateurs as for METRO the product is what counts. So we try to use only as much packaging as necessary and as little as possible. With our own brand packaging we strive to reduce the environmental impact during a product’s entire life cycle. We actively seek alternatives for conventional plastic while ensuring that we meet the high quality and hygiene standards our customers expect. We talk with diverse stakeholders to develop innovative solutions to bring us further towards closing the loop and using less impactful materials.
Managing resources responsibly
As a matter of principle, we support the further utilisation of resources and their recovery through recycling. Our focus is on packaging and the use of conventional plastic. To reduce our environmental footprint, we strongly support closed-loop recycling management.
In everyday wholesale business, packaging is not only used for transporting, preserving and protecting goods. Product packaging also contains information and usage instructions for customers. But packaging foremost represents a major cross-industry challenge in terms of reducing quantity as well as defining the proper materials.
As wholesale specialist we need to ensure that we meet the high quality and hygiene standards our customers expect, while at the same time we aim to reduce the environmental impact of the packaging of our own-brand products during the entire life cycle. We work to develop innovative solutions to improve resource efficiency, for instance by reducing packaging material, increasing the proportion of recycled material used in our packaging, and designing our packaging to improve stacking on pallets while at the same time reducing the costs for our customers.
Packaging ambition for 2023In order to make further significant reductions in plastic volumes and therefore in plastic waste, and to use resources as efficiently as possible, in October 2018 we have set ourselves targets and two of them were updated in 2021. The first updated target was for paper, board and wood in Own Brand packaging where an additional option was added, and that is to contain a minimum of 70% recycled content in case the material is not FSC or PEFC certified. The second target to reduce plastic packaging was increased to 2,000 tons as we overachieved the previous target and saved more than 300 tons by end of September 2020.
We aim by 30 September 2023:
- phase out 100% Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) / Polyvinylidene chloride (PVdC) in own brand products packaging on all packaging levels (primary, secondary and tertiary)
- phase out 100% Expanded polystyrene (EPS) in own brand products packaging on all packaging levels (primary, secondary and tertiary)
- use Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) / Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC) certification for all paper, paperboard, cardboard and wood own brand products packaging or a minimum of 70% recycled content in primary and secondary packaging level
- reduce 2,000 tons of plastic (virgin and recycled) in own brand plastic packaging, compared to baseline 1 October 2018
METRO Plastic Strategy
To underline our strong commitment to tackle the plastic waste challenge, in September 2018, as part of the METRO Plastic Strategy, we and our national subsidiaries committed ourselves to replacing conventional disposable plastics with reusable, recyclable or compostable alternatives by 2025, and to promoting the transition to closed-loop plastics recycling.
In addition, the #METROPlasticFighters are an important pillar of the METRO Plastics Initiative, which is deeply rooted in the company, raises awareness, educates about plastic waste and creates a growing internal task force to drive change forward. The idea behind it is simple – with around 98.000 employees worldwide, METRO has an enormous impact on the urgently needed change, starting from each individual employee and his or her relationships with our customers, suppliers, business partners, friends and family. Employees voluntarily met under the flag of #METROPlasticFighters to join or even organize e.g. clean-ups in Düsseldorf, the Ukraine or on the beach in Hong Kong. In addition, conventional plastic containers and single-use Coffee-To-Go cups were exchanged at METROs headquarters canteen and coffee bar. A sustainability fee for more sustainable alternatives e.g. reusable lunch boxes or 100% climate-neutral, reusable porcelain deposit cups are donated to the Pacific Garbage Screening project.
Packaging waste management
METRO wants to minimise waste in our own operations but also in our customers business. It is important to us to think in life cycles and promote innovative manufacturing and recycling technologies. We advise our customers on how to dispose of products and packaging. This means training employees and raising customer awareness of conserving resources, providing information about avoiding waste, and incentivising and enabling correct disposal as this decreases financial and environmental costs. Especially in countries where no national waste sorting scheme exists, local partnership and action is making a real impact in addressing and reducing the amount of waste going to landfill. Examples are the setting up of waste collection points for customers at METRO stores in Ukraine or the picking up of packaging waste at our customers premises in Myanmar.