HomeArticlesFood Shopping That Doesn’t Cost The Earth | Jamie Durie’s Groundswell
Food Shopping That Doesn’t Cost The Earth | Jamie Durie’s Groundswell
December 7, 2019
I’m just writing up a list for this week’s shopping. And I have to say not a lot of us really put a whole lot of thought into what impact that list will have on the planet, but look at any weekly shop and it’s hard not to see the amount of packaging, the food that we buy comes wrapped and stacked in. Now I am, and I’m sure you are, becoming increasingly concerned about the amount of plastic that’s coming into our homes and then of course going back out of our homes. So if there’s a way for us to reduce that, we want to learn all about it. So today I’m not just heading to the supermarket to pick up my weekly shopping, but on the way I’m going to dig a little deeper to find out just how much waste is generated by the retail industry. But I also want to find solutions, meet the people making a difference and see how you and I can do better environmentally while we shop. This is, Groundswell. Now before we talk about solutions, I want to know just how big the issue of waste generated by the retail industry really is. And to do that, we’re about to talk to somebody who knows. Rowan Miller from Sydney university looks at the waste generated by the retail industry, as well as how packaging takes its toll on the planet. Talking about food you waste about a third of what we have every year. Um, and that’s just a phenomenal amount of food, but that’s, that’s a small percent, um, of our overall waste when you start throwing the packaging, plastics, things that lasts years and years. So if we start redefining the concept, the concept of value as to what we purchase and then what we throw away, you’ll probably start working out that if we buy a lot close to our shopping list buy a lot closer to our needs by a lot more proximate to when we’re going to consume or cook our products that we’re gonna cut down a lot of that wastage. What we have to do is almost go back to living like they do in the, in the cities of Italy where you, you shop almost every day. You buy only what you need. You take your bags, you take your packaging with you and you just do it every day. And that way you have minimal waste and minimal carryover. The retail industry themselves is a really small contributor, direct contributor to the waste issue. But what they do is control the entire value chain from what we’re allowed to buy, which dictates what people are allowed to grow, manufacture, package and um, and then what they sell. So that dictates directly the amount of packaging, that dictates how long the food is designed to last for, whether it’s organic, whether it’s full for the pesticides, um, it just controls every aspect of consumption. So what we have to do as a society is, is get the supermarkets to get on board and say there’s a whole issue out there of sustainability that’s impacting everybody. It’s going to impact their bottom lines ultimately. Um, and we have to collectively explore solutions. So what solutions are the supermarkets looking at? Let’s find out. Daniel Baker from Aldi explains how the industry’s changing and what innovations his team are driving. What I’ve seen across the industry are our peers within the market starting to take the right steps, which I’m pleased to see and not only are our retail competitors starting to move, but the manufacturers of plastic packaging are actually starting to change as well. They’re looking for innovation. So one of our key commitments is making sure that by 2025, all plastic packaging used on our products is using recycled material. If we don’t create that demand for recycled content we’re not going to see a use for all of those materials that we’re saying can be recycled. What we realize is important is making sure that we contribute to and start playing in the circular economy. Eliminating waste and the ongoing reliance of new resources is the ultimate goal of the circular economy. Something that could turn the tide of environmental damage and something Aldi is already moving towards. So, we’ve also got quite a few things going on in store right now that are already helping us to meet customer’s expectations such as products within our green action range, which already use a hundred percent recycle materials to produce the packaging. We’ve also got a battery recycling scheme installed, which allows customers to bring back their household batteries, saving all of those materials that can be reused into something else, more batteries or other materials. And we’ve always been proud that ever since we’ve opened our stores, we’ve never offered single use plastic bags. We’ve saved over 40,000 tons of plastic going to landfill just by treating this, for Aldi, as business as usual. As a retailer we recognize that we’ve got a really important role to play in taking responsibility and helping address the problem that is plastics and packaging and we recognize we can’t do it alone. It’s not a case of us just simply telling our suppliers what we like or telling customers what they’re going to see, but actually working with our suppliers and our customers to not only understand what’s expected by our customers, but also to work with our suppliers to help understand, know what are the challenges, how do we make this happen, what do we need to do together? And importantly, how quickly can we do it? Because these are changes that we’re not going to see happen overnight. They’re going to take quite some time and quite some investment. Along with suppliers and customers, Aldi’s also working with people such as Brooke Donnelley, CEO of the Australian packaging covenant organization on their overall environmental strategy. When I sat down with the Aldi team and we started talking about what their targets were, Aldi and the sustainability team and the broader team at Aldi did a lot of work in understanding, um, not only the environmental, but also the economic and the social impact of these targets to make sure that what they’re looking at is achievable and also understanding that this has to work from a business perspective, it has to work for our economy. And I think that’s where Aldi have been really clever, um, in working through these targets. And I’m so excited to see them making this commitment. Before heading home. I wanted to see the kind of companies, Aldi’s partnering with. An MRI E cycle solutions is a great example. Taking used batteries, collected at Aldi stores. They’re also leading the way globally in preventing more toxic waste heading to landfill. Aldi’s been great partners. They’ve started off early, early days, agreed to fund recycling of batteries, which is off their own bat. They don’t have to do that. And so they’re quite unique in that respect that they’re doing the efforts of paying for a recycling service. So we like to be able to recycle, but we can’t do that without assistance, particularly financial assistance. So Aldi is a very important partner to us. We collect the product, we divert what we collect from landfill and it’s over 90% of by volume of what we collect is diverted from landfill. And that’s a really important issue. And what we do collect and divert from landfill, we recycle. That means with closing that circular economy, closing that loop so that we as a society know exactly what’s happening with the product and that we are recycling. Alkaline batteries, we break those down, shred them, remove the steel, which goes off to steel recycling and what’s left is a zinc and manganese residue that is used as a trace element in fertilizer manufacturer by a manufacturer in Australia. Well with a head full of new knowledge and a few bags of groceries. It’s time for me to now head home and actually put what I’ve learned into practice, from here on in. Well who knew that shopping could be this interesting. I learnt so much and I hope you did too. I learned that changing our shopping habits is one way to reduce waste, but it’s our purchasing power as consumers, that supermarkets most take note of. Now, whilst that does sound a little daunting, it will drive the retail industry to continue to innovate. So it makes it easier for us to make better choices. So a circular economy isn’t just about the products that we buy. It’s us, the consumers and the retailers, working together to really make a difference.