Greenpeace ranked 20 of the largest U.S. grocery stores for their efforts to eliminate single-use plastics, here's how the retailers did.
At this point I don't think I need to start things off with a recap on the harms done to nature by plastic. You already know the drill: Plastic pollution is everywhere, from the stomachs of whales to the food we eat and the water we drink. We know it's destroying the planet; now we need to turn the shock of it all into action.
Yet there are only so many plastic straws we can skip and water bottles we can pass on. At some point, the big companies are going to have to start doing the heavy lifting; the packaging industry, the food and drink manufacturers, and the grocery retailers, for starters. So it's been encouraging to see some of these entities begin to address the bane of single-use plastics.Earlier this year, ALDI earned praise for their commitment that all packaging will be reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025. Given that the chain has more than 1,800 U.S. stores in 35 states, and that it serves more than 40 million customers each month – it feels like a big deal.
And their work is paying off – ALDI has earned the top place in a new Greenpeace report, Packaging Away the Planet, ranking 20 of the largest U.S. grocery retailers on their efforts to eliminate single-use plastics.
And while ALDI did the best, it's all relative; out of a possible score of 100, none of them earned over 35.
“Grocery retailers across the country sell obscene amounts of products in throwaway plastics every single day, yet none of them are acting with the urgency needed to address the pollution crisis they’re causing,” said Greenpeace Plastics Campaigner David Pinsky. “Not only do these companies have the resources to reimagine their stores with refill and reuse systems, they can use their buying power to pressure consumer goods companies ... to act as well. The question is whether retailers will take responsibility for this mess, and act.”
Greenpeace scored the chains on their policies, plastic reduction efforts, innovation and initiatives, and transparency, according to a statement on the report. Here is how the retailers ranked.
ALDI ranked the highest because it has a plastic reduction target, a more comprehensive reduction plan, greater transparency, and a commitment to implement refill and reuse systems, notes Greenpeace. Of the top five, Kroger is the only one to commit to ban single-use plastic shopping bags and has joined Loop – a cool circular economy initiative – but the company has not yet released a comprehensive plastics reduction plan like ALDI has. Albertsons did well for its commitment to decrease plastic usage.
“It’s not enough for a retailer to eliminate plastic straws or make small changes to produce bags and walk away from this issue,” said Pinsky. “Retailers must develop comprehensive public policies to eliminate single-use plastics, and remain transparent with customers as they implement those plans.”
Starting on page 20 of the report you can read the individual profiles of each retailer; it's really pretty fascinating. If you want to start supporting grocery retailers that are working on the problem, it's a good place to start. We can all give up our single-use plastic straws, but without the big companies making some big changes, the big messy plastic menace will persevere.
You can see the whole report here: Packaging Away the Planet.