Products of Change


Thu 18 May 2023 | by Rob Hutchins

Aldi becomes latest retailer to join The Refill Coalition to stop single-use plastic

Aldi has drawn its line in the sand to join a line-up of the biggest UK supermarkets to fight the tide of single-use plastic in the grocery sector, having formally joined the Refill Coalition. The Coalition was convened in 2020 by the UK’s leading refill expert, Unpackaged with support from retail giants including M&S, Morrisons, and Sainsbury’s. Today the Coalition is made up of Alsi, Ocado, Waitrose & Partners, and the supply chain solutions firm, CHEP. The Coalition is collaborating to co-design an innovative refill solution, which, if successful could play a key role in reducing the 56.5 billion units of single-use plastic packaging sold in the UK each year. Further to this, 99% of plastic packaging is also made from fossil fuels which causes CO2 emissions, contributing to climate change at a time when all businesses need to transition to Net Zero. Just this week, researchers at the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) sounded the alarm of inevitability the planet will breach the 1.5ºC threshold between now and 2027. There is now a 66% likelihood of exceeding that point in at least one out of the next five years. Some UK retailers have already introduced refill stations at select stores as it is seen as a key component in tackling single-use plastic packaging waste. However, an end-to-end solution is still needed to achieve scale – making industry-wide collaboration crucial. The Refill Coalition’s solution will reimagine how key food staples – such as pasta and grains – and household products like home and personal care products, are supplied. Luke Emery, plastics and packaging director at Aldi UK, said: “Aldi is dedicated to reducing single-use plastic, which is why we are pleased to become a member of the Refill Coalition. We look forward to working together with industry partners to offer customers even more convenient and efficient ways to shop plastic-free and drive further uptake of unpackaged products.” Research from the Refill Coalition has shown that 71% of UK adults are open to trying refill stations, particularly women (76%) and 18 to 34-year-olds. Catherine Conway, director of Unpackaged, said: “We are delighted that Aldi is joining the Coalition, strengthening the work we have already started with its unique position as the UK’s leading discounter. We look forward to launching the solution later in the year so that refills can become more accessible to UK shoppers who still want to consumer less single-use plastic packaging on the items they purchase.”