In 2021, we named ALDI one of the most sustainable chain stores. And now, it’s taking another major step toward making its operations more planet-friendly. In a recent progress report letter from Jason Hart, ALDI’s CEO, the grocery chain announced its commitment to eliminating plastic shopping bags from all stores.
In the letter, Hart states “ALDI will become the first major U.S. retailer” to make this commitment. ALDI stores have already removed plastic bags from almost 500 stores, and the retailer has goals to completely phase plastic bags out from all 2,200 ALDI locations by the end of 2023. Doing so will “remove 4,400 tons of plastic from circulation each year.”
The announcement follows the release of ALDI’s 2022 Corporate Responsibility Progress Report. And this updated report features even more planet-forward initiatives. In sum, about 62% of ALDI-exclusive packaging is now reusable, recyclable, or compostable; over 120 stores and 12 distribution centers have rooftop solar panels to produce green electricity; and ALDI diverted about 74% of company-wide “operational waste” from landfills.
ALDI has several other goals to make its operations more sustainable, and the progress report features a more detailed list of what it has already achieved. However, we want to talk more about why eliminating plastic bags is so significant.
The Plastic Bag Problem
According to our research, plastic bags are typically made of low-density polyethylene (LDPE). While plastic bags are technically recyclable, they usually can’t be recycled in your curbside bin. Instead, you’ll need to find a drop-off recycling location.
Unfortunately, these types of plastic bags have a tendency to get caught in recycling facility machinery, hindering the recycling process and causing more harm than good. When plastic bags don’t get recycled correctly, they often get sent to the landfill (or even become litter). And when this happens, landfills get filled with non-biodegradable products that release harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
That’s why it’s so significant that ALDI is getting rid of plastic shopping bags altogether. Plus, other chain stores are also striving to eliminate plastic shopping bags. Amid plastic bag bans happening in several states including New York, Connecticut, Oregon, and soon New Jersey, Target stores located in these states have traded plastic bags for reusable totes.
ALDI’s pledge is a step in a more sustainable direction. Does it mean we’ll be seeing fewer plastic bags at other grocery stores, too? Hopefully! But even if your local grocery store—or any store, for that matter—still offers plastic bags, you have the option to decline.
No matter where you shop, you can bring your own reusable bag to carry your purchases. Bringing your own bag when shopping sends retailers a message: Conscious consumerism is here to stay!