German retailer ALDI has completely phased out plastic shopping bags which, according to the company, will save thousands of tons of plastic waste each year.
The move will apply to all of ALDI’s 2,300 stores in the United States, and comes on top of the company’s decision to implement environmentally friendly coolants in its refrigeration systems.
“Eliminating plastic shopping bags from our stores and transitioning to environmentally friendly refrigerant systems not only help us protect the environment, but they also help reduce costs which we then pass on to our customers,” wrote ALDI CEO Jason Hart in a press release.
Hart added that the change implemented by one of America’s fastest-growing retailers will benefit customers and employees alike.
“These decisions help our customers feel good about shopping at ALDI and our employees feel proud to work here,” Mr. Hart wrote.
Previously, shoppers could purchase plastic bags in ALDI stores which, according to the company, added nearly 4,500 tons of plastic to domestic waste streams each year.
The retailer will continue to offer cloth bags at stores, and will also allow customers to use any empty cardboard boxes from the store, or purchase a paper bag instead if they forget to take their own reusable bags, according to a Fortune report.
“As one of America’s fastest-growing retailers, we take our responsibility to lead the industry in sustainability seriously, so our customers don’t have to choose between shopping responsibly and saving money,” wrote Mr. Hart.
Similar to Costco and Sam’s Club, groceries at ALDI are not bagged for customers and, if shoppers wish to use shopping carts, these are available to use for a refundable deposit of a quarter.
Environmentally Friendly Cooling
ALDI has pledged to use natural refrigerants in all of its U.S. stores by the end of 2035—a move the company says will reduce annual carbon emissions by 60 per cent. Around 600 stores nationwide have implemented the transition to date.
“As ALDI continues to grow, natural refrigerants will keep its products fresh while supporting a healthier planet,” the press release states.
The company recently announced the takeover of a number of other retailers, after it confirmed in August that it had purchased 400 Winn-Dixie and Harveys Supermarket stores, the majority of which are located in Florida. The remaining stores are spread across Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
ALDI has received a lot of praise for its environmentally friendly approach, while also remaining affordable. Stores nationwide serve millions of customers each month. The company says it prides itself on having a “positive impact on customers, employees, and communities by being socially and environmentally responsible.”
The ALDI press release also stated that the company has been recognized as the no. 1 on price for the sixth consecutive year, according to the dunnhumby Retailer Preference Index Report.
The use of disposable plastic bags in stores has already been banned in multiple U.S. states, including Colorado, Maine, New Jersey, California, and New York, Fortune reported. It comes as part of ongoing efforts to reduce plastic pollution in oceans and waterways, as well as on city streets.