Aldi store

Source: Aldi

Aldi has been working toward the target since 2018

Aldi is struggling to deliver on a commitment of making all own-label packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2022, despite threatening to axe slow-moving suppliers.

The change is taking longer than expected for the final 1% of own-label packaging, thanks to a lack of viable alternatives.

Aldi made the commitment in March 2018, saying it would “ensure that all packaging on own-label products will be recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2022”.

By June 2021, the discounter was still saying it was on track to hit the target, but by March this year the message had changed from “by 2022” to “by the end of 2022”.

Now, with the end of 2022 approaching, Aldi is still struggling to find viable solutions for problematic elements of packaging such as soak pads for fresh meat and laminated paper for block cheese and butter.

“We have made significant progress since setting this target and we are pleased the packaging on 99% of our own-label products is now recyclable, reusable or compostable,” an Aldi spokesman told The Grocer.

“We are committed to reducing our environmental impact in any way we can and are continuing to explore more sustainable packaging alternatives for the very small number of remaining products.”

The setback comes despite Aldi UK & Ireland CEO Giles Hurley writing to suppliers in February 2020 warning them future buying decisions “will be based on our supply partners’ ability to lead and adapt in this area”.

Read more: Broken promises: is setting environmental targets doing more harm than good?

Aldi also told campaign group The Changing Markets Foundation it would ensure products that fell short “will not receive clearance to be sold in our stores” by the deadline.

The supermarket is working towards a separate target of all branded packaging being recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

It is not the only retailer to acknowledge struggling with a plastic target this year. In July, Iceland MD Richard Walker confirmed the business would not hit a target, set in 2018, of eliminating plastic packaging from own-label products by the end of 2023. He blamed setbacks in the pandemic and a lack of viable alternative materials.

The Changing Markets Foundation has criticised businesses that miss their own sustainability targets, claiming it illustrates the need for more legislation. Talking to The Grocer in October, the group’s campaigns director Nusa Urbancic argued setting and missing voluntary targets created a “societal placebo” for consumer environmental concerns. “You think the medicine is coming but it’s actually fake,” she said.