1. 2020
  2. Interim Report 2020
  3. Environmental protection

UN Global Compact Communication on Progress (COP) 2020 - Environmental protection

UN Global Compact Communication on Progress (COP) 2020 - Environmental Protection

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

Principle 7: Preventive environmental protection

Principle 8: Initiatives for greater accountability awareness for the environment

Principle 9: Development and dissemination of environmentally friendly technologies

Our commitment to climate protection

Climate protection is one of the greatest societal challenges of our time. That is why we place a particular focus on reducing our energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

In 2018, we published our current climate target: we undertake to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions throughout ALDI Nord by 40 per cent by the end of 2021 compared with our 2015 levels. This target applies to all CO2 emissions that we cause in the course of our business activities (Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions). As things stand, we expect to reach our target by the end of 2021. With our Climate Protection Policy, we demonstrate the importance of climate protection across all ALDI companies. We plan to report on our progress to date, as well as on new climate targets, in an updated version of the International Climate Protection Policy in early 2022 (see also ‘Joining the Science Based Targets initiative’).

We also calculate our business-related CO2 footprint annually, which breaks down our greenhouse gas emissions by emission source. It is prepared in accordance with the internationally recognised Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol standard.

Joining the Science Based Targets initiative

In July 2020, ALDI Nord became one of the first discount retailers to join the ‘Science Based Targets initiative‘ (SBTi). By joining, we commit to setting binding and scientifically verified targets to reduce our CO2 emissions over the next two years. These targets should be in line with the 1.5-degree target of the Paris Agreement, taking the entire value chain into account. We are therefore currently working on the following measures:

  • development and validation of science-based targets (SBTs) for climate protection across the entire ALDI Nord value chain (Scope 1, 2 and 3 CO2 emissions)
  • development of a forecast for Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions (own business-related CO2 emissions)
  • development of a range of suitable measures to achieve the reduction target

In addition, we are continuously working on further measures and strategies to reduce our CO2 emissions. In our updated International Climate Change Policy, we will provide information on the measures planned for SBTs as part of our new climate strategy in 2022.

Climate protection in the supply chain

In addition to the emissions we produce ourselves, we also consider emissions in the upstream and downstream value chain. These Scope 3 emissions, as they are known, account for up to 95 per cent of total emissions in the retail sector.

We are in close dialogue with our most important partners and suppliers in order to reduce these CO2 emissions. Strategic suppliers – who are responsible for 75 per cent of emissions in the supply chain – are also required to set science-based targets (SBTs) by the end of 2024. They have already been offered free webinars on the requirements for operational climate accounting and the definition of SBTs to support them. The training sessions were carried out with our cooperation partner ‘Climate Partner’. ALDI Nord continuously reviews the status of implementation and the progress of climate commitment among the suppliers.

Environmental responsibility in buildings

It is in our genes as a discounter to focus on efficient use of resources. By adopting modern efficiency management systems, we are contributing to the future viability of ALDI Nord.

Lighting

Lighting the retail space accounts for around one-quarter of a store’s electricity consumption. To keep electricity consumption as low as possible, we have been installing LED lighting technology at new stores in all countries since 2016. In Germany, we also completed the conversion of outdoor lighting to insect-friendly LEDs in 2020; in other countries, the conversion is still under way. The exact measures and advantages of LED lighting can be found in the Sustainability Report 2017.

At our distribution centres, we will be able to save a total of up to 3,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year by switching to LEDs. Belgium and Denmark have already switched to LED lighting in recent years. Since 2020, only LED lamps have been used for interior lighting in Germany. The conversion to LED is also planned or being implemented at our distribution centres in France, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain. In some cases, outdoor lighting at the central warehouses has also been converted to LED, and demand-responsive lighting – i.e. light sources that are switched on by motion detectors – has been introduced.

Refrigeration

Refrigeration is another aspect of climate protection efforts at our stores. We have started replacing the refrigerants used to date with climate-friendlier alternatives. ALDI Belgium, ALDI Nord Germany, ALDI Luxembourg, ALDI Netherlands and ALDI Portugal are gradually switching over all existing fridges and freezers to the natural refrigerant propane (R290), which has very low global warming potential. All newly installed cooling systems already use CO2 as a natural refrigerant. Since 2020, this has applied to the entire group of companies, as all countries have installed the new cooling systems since the reporting year.

Between 2019 and 2020, we reduced emissions resulting from refrigerant losses by 3 per cent to around 74,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents. This reduction was a result of the switch of refrigerants alongside the rollout of digital leakage monitoring systems that are in use at our locations in Germany, Poland and the Netherlands (for more information, see Climate Protection Policy). ALDI France has also been using a digital monitoring system at all new stores since 2018.

Renewable energy: more green electricity by 2021

The roofs of many stores and distribution centres are equipped with photovoltaic systems. In 2020, our systems already had an installed capacity of more than 95,000 kWp and produced more than 79,800 MWh of electricity. Across the group of companies, we saved around 19,300 tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2020 by expanding photovoltaic systems.

We exceeded our target of installing an additional nominal output of more than 50,000 kWp (compared to 2017) through further photovoltaic systems by the beginning of 2021 by achieving an additional nominal output of about 63,000 kWp. We plan to push ahead with the expansion of further systems in the future.

Across ALDI Nord, we currently use approximately 72 per cent of the solar-generated electricity ourselves; the remainder is fed into the power grid. To increase the amount of energy for our own use, we continue testing the effectiveness of storage technology that would enable us to use the generated electricity at a later time.

Despite additional photovoltaic systems, we will still draw most of our electricity from the grid in the years ahead. To meet our climate target, we currently plan to purchase more green power by the end of 2021. ALDI Belgium, ALDI Netherlands and ALDI Spain have begun fully sourcing their electricity from green sources. As a result, we saved more than 96,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 2020. For the other countries, we are currently developing strict criteria for the purchase of green electricity.

Sustainability improvements in cotton

Our stated goal is the conversion to 100 per cent sustainable cotton by the end of 2025 for own-brand clothing and household textile products made from or containing cotton. In the year under review, we underlined this goal by joining the ‘2025 Sustainable Cotton Challenge’ programme of the global non-profit organisation ‘Textile Exchange’. We also published an International Cotton Purchasing Policy in early 2020. This forms a binding framework for action that applies to both ALDI Nord and our business partners.

In 2020, we already sold 64 per cent certified cotton. At present, we use the requirements of the ‘Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)’, the ‘Organic Content Standard (OCS)’, ‘Fairtrade’, cotton from the initiatives ‘Cotton made in Africa’ (CmiA) and ‘Better Cotton Initiative’ (BCI), as well as recycled cotton.

Reduction of chemicals in production

Coordinated action by all players in the industry is essential to achieving positive change in the supply chain. That is why we want to harmonise our chemical management requirements with leading industry standards. In 2020, we therefore adopted the parameters for wastewater and sludge testing of the international ‘Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals’ (ZDHC) initiative. In addition, we have been working with the ‘Partnership Initiative Wastewater’ of the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles since July 2020 in order to improve standardisation of requirements and measures.

Furthermore, we rely on partnerships to reduce negative impacts on people and the environment. It was for this reason that we joined the ‘amfori Business Environmental Performance Initiative’ (amfori BEPI) in 2017. amfori BEPI aims to promote environmental protection throughout supply chains during chemical-intensive production processes. In the area of chemicals management, amfori BEPI works together with the ZDHC, for example. The partnership gives participating production facilities access to the ZDHC’s training programmes. Chemical Management Audits (CMAs) for high-risk production facilities and all newly registered wet-processing facilities have been mandatory since 2018 (2020: 54 CMAs). The corrective action plans (CAPs) drawn up as part of the CMAs help producers with the proper storage of chemicals, for example. In 2021, the results of the CMAs mentioned above will be followed up and improvement measures implemented. During production of all our products, we also check compliance with the limit values in the wastewater and sludge analysis, as well as in the final product. Since 2020, we have also accepted ‘STeP certificates‘ from ‘OEKO-TEX®’ and ‘bluesign®‘ system partnerships as an alternative to the ZDHC’s CMAs.

Through our measures, we aim to focus primarily on the areas that pose the highest risk to people and the environment. That is why we removed our requirements for low-risk production countries (Australia, most European countries and the US) in 2020. In turn, we will continue to expand our measures in high-risk countries such as Bangladesh, China, India or Pakistan.

Recycling and the supply chain

The manufacture of our products has an impact on the environment. We try to reduce this impact as much as possible; this includes using and reusing resources as efficiently as possible. We are therefore closely following the development of the action plan for a circular economy at European level, as well as national efforts such as the duty of care for products in Germany. Since 2020, we have been involved in the ‘Expert Group on Circular Economy’ of the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles (‘Bündnis für nachhaltige Textilien‘) and want to work together on sustainable solutions. Furthermore, three products made from recycled cotton from ‘WECYCLED®‘ were included in our range for the first time in 2020. This textile process uses production scraps and residues from textile manufacturing to make new cotton thread instead of producing waste. At partner workshops, they are separated by people with disabilities and then processed together with fresh cotton into high-quality WECYCLED® thread. In 2020, a total of around 83,000 items using WECYCLED® thread were sold to our customers.

Promotion of a circular economy: our packaging targetsà

Avoiding waste is a key pillar of sustainable development. Packaging waste accounts for a significant part of the total waste volume at ALDI Nord. We are continuously working to reduce the amount of packaging used and to meet the rising demand for more sustainable product packaging. We are guided by the principles of the circular economy: ‘Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.’ Our goal is to use as little packaging material as possible, while of course ensuring product safety and quality at all times. The packaging we use should be designed in such a way that it can be returned to the circular economy.

In 2020, we adopted international packaging targets for the entire ALDI Nord group of companies. Our goal is to make sure that 100 per cent of our own-brand product packaging is recyclable by 2025. We also aim to reduce the total weight of our own-brand product packaging material by 15 per cent by 2025 in relation to sales (database 2020). Fruit and vegetables are one focal point of these efforts, with at least 40 per cent of the fruit and vegetable products of all ALDI companies to be offered without packaging by the end of 2025. However, some products require packaging for quality and safety reasons. For these products, we will only use sustainable and environmentally friendly materials and promote the use of recycled or renewable resources, for example.

In addition to these international targets, the ALDI companies also pursue national targets that are set out in our plastics and packaging strategies such as the ‘ALDI Packaging Mission’. These targets are also reflected in industry commitments, for example in the Netherlands with ‘Plastic Pact NL’ (see Sustainability Report 2019). As part of our packaging mission, we printed instructions for the proper disposal of packaging materials on almost all own-brand product packaging in Germany in 2020. The ALDI disposal instructions are also increasingly included on own-brand product packaging in Poland and Portugal. This allows us to promote consumer education on proper waste disposal in these countries as well. In some countries, such as the Netherlands, similar national labelling systems are used. We aim for 100 per cent of the own brands at ALDI Netherlands to be labelled accordingly by 2022, thus fulfilling an applicable industry obligation.

Guide for more sustainable packaging

ALDI published a guide for more sustainable packaging in 2019. The guide serves as an orientation aid for recyclable packaging design and highlights optimisation potential for resource-efficient packaging. Version 2.0 of the guide was sent to our German suppliers at the beginning of 2021. The updated version includes further packaging examples, recommendations for avoiding materials that are difficult to recycle and an update on the minimum standard of the German ‘Central Agency Packaging Register’ (ZSVR) foundation. These measures allow us to take into account not only the legal requirements, but also the growing customer expectations for more sustainable packaging.

Avoiding plastic

Because it preserves the quality of goods and can be used in a variety of ways, we consider plastic to be a valuable resource. However, the increasing volumes of plastic waste are more and more a cause for concern for the public, governments and companies around the world. There is a growing awareness that the problem must be tackled at the roots. At ALDI Nord, we also avoid plastic packaging wherever product protection and quality requirements permit, allowing us to save around 1,750 tonnes of plastic in our own-brand product packaging in 2020 compared to 2019 in Germany alone. Every single measure brings us one step closer to achieving our goals.

Wherever we have to use plastic because of its product-protecting qualities, we want to ensure that the resources used flow back into the cycle. That is why we are gradually using more and more recycled plastics for our product packaging throughout the ALDI Nord group of companies. When it comes to beverages, we use up to 50 per cent recycled plastic in all ALDI Nord countries for fruit juices in 0.33-litre bottles, our own-brand cola and some mineral waters.

We achieved our goal of ending the sale of disposable plastic products such as plates, cutlery, cups, straws and cotton buds throughout the group of companies at the end of 2020. Indispensable items have been replaced by more environmentally friendly or reusable alternatives, allowing us to meet national regulatory requirements in some countries.

The next step is to align our international packaging targets with the circular economy principle. We aim to reduce the total weight of virgin plastic in our own-brand product packaging (excluding fruit and vegetables) by at least 20 per cent (relative to sales) by 2025. We also aim for our own-brand plastic product packaging to contain an average of at least 30 per cent recycled material by the end of 2025.

Carrier bags, reusable nets and fruit bags

In 2019, we converted all carrier bags to multiple-use bags in Germany and removed non-reusable plastic carrier bags from the stores throughout Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Poland. ALDI Denmark stopped issuing plastic bags for single use at the end of 2020. We also introduced FSC® MIX-certified paper bags in Portugal in 2020. In 2019, ALDI France conducted a pilot project at two regional companies to switch completely to FSC® MIX-certified paper bags, as a result of which the paper bags were introduced at all regional companies of ALDI France from January 2021. In Spain and Portugal, (single-use) plastic carrier bags were replaced in 2019 by carrier bags made of 100 per cent recycled plastic that will also be withdrawn from sale in 2021. As a result, only reusable carrier bags will be issued throughout the group of companies from the beginning of 2022.

We have also been offering reusable nets at the ALDI stores in Germany since late 2019. Nets are more environmentally friendly than conventional fruit and vegetable bags, are washable and can be reused. Appropriate alternatives will also soon be available in other countries such as Denmark, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain (see Sustainability Report 2019). ALDI Belgium has been using FSC®-certified paper bags for loose fruit and vegetables since March 2020.

Reduction of food loss: our goals

Our goal is to ensure optimal availability of all products on our shelves while minimising food losses and waste – both in our own business operations and throughout the supply chain, all the way through to our customers. For many years, ALDI Nord has used numerous measures to minimise food loss and waste in all areas.

In the reporting year, we developed an international guideline for the prevention of food losses and waste (see Guideline for the prevention of food losses and food waste) and published it on the national websites of the ALDI companies at the beginning of 2021. This guideline applies to all food products sold by ALDI Nord. It regulates the handling of surplus food and is binding for the ALDI companies and their business partners. The guideline defines our own hierarchy for avoiding food waste, which we have developed on the basis of existing models. We prefer to sell, donate or recycle food before it is used as feed for livestock, for example. Our international goal is to include products made from surplus food production (food recycling) in the ALDI product ranges. We are also working to ensure that all ALDI Nord stores will cooperate with partners to reduce food waste, such as food banks or the ‘Too Good To Go’ organisation, by the end of 2021. ALDI Belgium already expanded its cooperation with food banks in 2019 by freezing food surpluses prior to donation so that the best-before date is no longer an issue.

Regionality: guideline for definition

Depending on how you define it, regionality can mean products from your own country, the wider region or the farm around the corner. We want to inform our customers about how we understand regionality at ALDI Nord. That is why we developed the ‘Guideline for Local Food’ in 2020, which defines our understanding of regionality. We also distinguish between products of regional and national origin, and between local specialities, brands, dishes and recipes. We are initially testing the guideline internally and will make it publicly available in the course of 2021. Our goal is to label all products of national origin accordingly by the end of 2021 and to expand our regional product range. We also want to inform our customers about the sustainability benefits of regionality.

Labelling of products: expanded nutritional labels to aid customer decisions

The ‘Nutri-Score’ food label is one of the most commonly used expanded nutritional labels in the EU. This five-level colour and letter scale informs consumers at a glance about the nutritional composition of a product, helping them to compare items within a given product category. We support the adoption of the Nutri-Score to make decisions as easy as possible for our customers. The Nutri-Score label is applied to the packaging of certain own-brand products depending on the legal requirements in the respective countries. ALDI France and ALDI Belgium, for example, started using the Nutri-Score in 2020. Germany and Spain registered the first brands for the Nutri-Score in early 2021 and launched the first items in mid-2021. ALDI Portugal registered the first brands at the beginning of 2021; in the Netherlands, the Nutri-Score is expected to be introduced at the beginning of 2022. In other countries, customers are already familiar with similar labels. ALDI Denmark will continue to use the well-established label ‘The Keyhole’.

Sustainable product ranges

We share responsibility for more sustainable production of resources across the entire value chain. That is why we use purchasing policies, internal purchasing guidelines and (international) catalogues with corporate responsibility (CR) requirements for our suppliers. We also work closely with our suppliers and support them in implementing our sustainability requirements and improving the sustainability of products and production processes. Our main international goal is to further optimise the products in our ranges. For example, we plan to use vegan rather than vegetarian recipes; use less salt, sugar and fat in our products; and further expand our ranges of organic products in many ALDI Nord countries.

Resource-specific purchasing policies currently exist for tea, cocoa, coffee, palm oil, fish (national) and animal welfare (national and international) (as of the end of 2020). Our International Animal Welfare Purchasing Policy stipulates a ban on fresh battery eggs no later than 2025. ALDI France has already reached this target and has been 100 per cent free of shell eggs from caged hens since March 2021. Fresh eggs from caged hens have not been sold for several years at ALDI Belgium or ALDI Netherlands due to national legal requirements. Some national fish purchasing policies contain a red list of fish species that are not allowed to be sold in these countries, including Belgium and Germany. We also joined the ‘Global Tuna Alliance‘ and the ‘North Atlantic Pelagic Advocacy Group‘ in 2020, and take part in the ‘Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability‘. In future, we also want to advocate for the sustainable use of soy, which is why we have been a member of the ‘Retail Soy Group‘ and the ‘Round Table on Responsible Soy Association‘ since 2020. ALDI Denmark published a national purchasing policy for soy in the reporting year. An international version for the group of companies will follow in the course of 2021. In the non-food segment, there are purchasing policies in place for flowers and plants, wood, cardboard and paper, as well as an International Cotton Purchasing Policy, which was published in 2020.

Thanks to the ALDI Transparency Code (ATC), our customers can track the origin of numerous meat products across ALDI Nord online at any time. In Germany, fish products, fresh eggs and textiles made from sustainable cotton can also be traced back to their origin via the ATC.

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