The grocery market globally has evolved considerably in the past two years. The pandemic has spotlighted the industry and highlighted global reliance on grocery retailers. Grocery retailers fulfilled the essential role of keeping people fed and providing necessary cleaning and personal hygiene products. In many ways, grocery retailers were also the unsung heroes of the pandemic, and the industry is expected to continue its growth. With continued growth comes the discussion around sustainability as more businesses shift gears to reduce their environmental impact.

storefront of retail giant ALDI in china

ALDI, an international retailer with over 10,000 stores worldwide, entered the Chinese market in 2017 and has since expanded steadily in Shanghai. As it expands its footprint in China and remains committed to its sustainability journey, the conversation around optimizing packaging sustainability continued, and ALDI tasked INDEED to identify ways to find solutions around its product packaging.

A comprehensive Sustainable Packaging Guideline

Optimizing packaging sustainability for a retailer on all private label products across different categories is a complex yet exciting challenge. To understand the real recyclability of various types of packaging used in Shanghai, INDEED researched the collection, sorting, and recycling process. For packaging with separate recycling infrastructures, such as PET, HDPE, and glass bottles, the recyclable design requirements, including material, colors, coating, adhesive, labels, and ink, were collected and synthesized. The team at INDEED also analyzed various packaging types, focusing on weight, recyclability, and presentation.

The findings in Shanghai were then compared with waste management practices from other parts of the world, allowing the team to evaluate better and learn and adapt best practices to deliver a more efficient, sustainable strategy for retailers in Shanghai.

Based on research insights, INDEED developed a comprehensive Sustainable Packaging Guideline for ALDI China. Optimization pathways and preferred packaging formats were proposed for each category and packaging type. INDEED also created a material blocklist to eliminate inappropriate materials such as PVC and PS while recommending feasible substitutions.

blurred overview of packaging guideline

To ensure gradual and effective implementation of the guideline and refresh the retailer’s buying team on the impact of packaging, INDEED conducted interactive training workshops to discuss the details of the guidelines, identify priorities, and the different challenges faced.

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