Albertsons Companies has announced a broad plastic waste reduction pledge to advance sustainability throughout the company, starting with its extensive own brands portfolio. The new commitment furthers the circular economy for packaging at the company’s 2,300 Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Tom Thumb, Shaw’s, Star Market, ACME Markets, Randalls, Haggen, and other banner stores.
Albertsons Cos.’s plastics and packaging pledge includes the following goals:
- Achieve even greater sustainability of own brands product packaging by ensuring that 100% of packaging will be recyclable, reusable, or industrially compostable by 2025
- Decrease plastic usage, with an emphasis on single-use plastics
- Own brands plastic packaging will include 20% recycled content by 2025
- Recycle operational (non-consumer facing) plastics for use in new retail, industrial, and/or consumer items
- Provide clear recycling communications on own brands product packaging, including the use of QR codes, by 2022. The company is working with How2Recycle to standardize its labeling system and improve the reliability, completeness, and transparency of recyclability claims.
- Source and share industry best practices with other members of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition
“As we innovate and expand our own brand lines, we always keep the overall impact of packaging in mind and seek out ways to improve sustainability for each and every product,” says Geoff White, President of Own Brands. “Our suppliers are strong partners in this effort and, in many cases, are leading the charge on reducing, reusing, and decreasing plastic content.”
Currently, Albertsons Cos. is completing a pilot on a closed-loop recycling program to repurpose suppliers’ plastic corrugate boxes into new ones. The company’s Southern California Division is working with a vendor to recycle #5 polypropylene crates that suppliers use to ship products such as fruits and vegetables. After the crates are emptied at store level, the stores return bales of collapsed crates, which are then processed into plastic pellets by approved recyclers. The pellets are then used to manufacture new crates.
The crate recycling pilot is just one project that fulfills the company’s pledge to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The commitment calls on its participants to take key steps, including “significantly increasing amounts of plastics reused or recycled and made into new packaging or products.”
A similar closed-loop process at Albertsons Cos. is used to make reusable shopping bags that are offered at some of its stores. The company partners with its bag manufacturer to produce bags made from 65% recycled material, including a minimum of 40% post-consumer waste. Albertsons Cos. stores and distribution centers divert used plastic film from the company’s operations and single-use plastic bags that customers bring in for recycling to incorporate into the bags. The durable bags can be used up to 125 times and are machine washable.
The bags and shipping crates are two of the many products resulting from the company’s recycling efforts. Each year, distribution centers and stores recycle roughly 22 million pounds of plastic film. The film is used to manufacture a number of products, including composite lumber. Through a partnership with Trex Company, Inc., a manufacturer of composite lumber that is commonly used for decking, railings, and other commercial purposes, the film is transformed into decking material. The roughly 22 million pounds of plastic film that Albertsons Cos. facilities and stores recycle each year is enough to create 22,000 composite decks.
More information about the company’s commitment to sustainability can be found in the recent Sustainability Update.