Albert Heijn has announced that it plans to phase out plastic bags for loose fruit and vegetables by the end of this year.
The initiative will remove 130 million bags, or 243,000 kilograms of plastic, from its operations per year.
Beginning mid-April, the retailer will offer free sustainable and reusable bags for the first two weeks for loose fruit and vegetables.
The retailer also plans to introduce a system that allows customers to return used plastic bags for recycling.
Albert Heijn expects to recycle 645,000 kilograms of plastic on an annual basis through this move.
Marit van Egmond, general manager of Albert Heijn, said, "Over the past three years, we have saved more than seven million kilos of packaging material.
"From meal and lunch salads in a thinner bowl and thinner soft drink bottles to the completely unpackaged offering of fruit and vegetables. We keep looking at whether it can be done less."
The retailer added that many customers already bring their shopping bags when they come to the supermarket.
Albert Heijn is also launching a new line of shopping bags with 10 different, more sustainable options from 100% recycled plastic (PET).
The bags are easily foldable, washable and competitively priced, offering an excellent alternative to regular plastic bags.
The retailer will highlight these shopping bags through its 'A bag for time and time again' campaign.
'Most Sustainable' Supermarket
For the fifth consecutive year, Albert Heijn has been voted as the most sustainable supermarket chain in the Netherlands by consumers.
It has succeeded in gaining more and more appreciation from Dutch consumers when it comes to sustainability, according to Annemisjes Tillema, country director of Sustainable Brand Index NL.
"The range of organic, fair trade certified, vegetarian and vegan products in its range is an important reason for this appreciation," Tillema added.
Commenting on the achievement, Marit van Egmond said, "Albert Heijn has taken important steps in the field of sustainability in recent years. Not only when it comes to healthier and more sustainable food but also when it comes to less packaging, transparent chains, and CO2 reduction."
© 2021 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Dayeeta Das. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.