Earlier this month discount grocer ALDI committed to a new sustainability charter to demonstrate its commitment to protecting the planet’s resources and ecosystems with a series of initiatives that will be achieved between now and 2030. The bold approach highlights commitments to lower greenhouse gases, reduce food and operational waste, improve packaging and source responsibly. Each of these commitments will have a positive impact on the environment while continuing to provide customers with accessible and affordable choices. 

Jason Hart, CEO, ALDI U.S.

“ALDI has a responsibility to protect the environment and we know it’s an important priority for our customers,” said Jason Hart, CEO, ALDI U.S. “We are committed to evaluating and implementing sustainable business practices while always offering the highest quality products at prices that can’t be beat.” 

 The ALDI sustainability charter includes the following initiatives: 

Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26% by 2025. The grocery retailer will reduce emissions through a continued transition to solar and wind energy sourcing and build out its renewable infrastructure to rely less on grey power grids. ALDI currently has solar panels at 111 stores and 12 distribution centers nationwide and will add solar to warehouses in Alabama and Kansas, as well as roughly 60 stores by the end of 2022. ALDI has been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a green power leader and currently purchases enough renewable energy annually to power its more than 2,000 stores, 25 warehouses and offices. ALDI is sourcing this power through Green-e and receives renewable energy certificates to validate its clean energy investment. 

All ALDI U.S. warehouses and nearly 400 stores use natural refrigerants that reduce the environmental impact by up to 4,000 times compared to common refrigerants. ALDI will continue to shift to natural refrigerants in all store locations. In 2020, ALDI earned more EPA GreenChill store certifications than any supermarket chain previously, all at the highest platinum level. 

Divert 90% of operational waste by 2025 and strive to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030. Plans to achieve these aggressive goals are in development and are expected to include composting, nonfood donation programs and expanded recycling and food recovery initiatives. ALDI already diverts waste from store and warehouse operations and has recycling efforts in place for food, plastic film, corrugated cardboard, paper, metals and other materials. In 2020, ALDI recycled nearly 300,000 tons of material, avoiding the greenhouse gas emission equivalent of nearly 9 million gallons of gasoline per month. In the same year, to combat both food waste and food insecurity, ALDI donated more than 29 million pounds of product that would have otherwise gone to landfills to local food banks through its longstanding partnership with Feeding America. 

Reduce packaging materials by 15% and convert all ALDI private brand packaging to reusable, recyclable or compostable materials by 2025. The company’s ability to influence packaging is significant, as more than 90% of the products ALDI sells are exclusive items. By the end of 2021, Styrofoam will be removed from all produce packaging. ALDI will continue to make progress toward a series of packaging commitments made in 2019 to reduce packaging and to make 100% of ALDI private brand packaging — including plastic packaging — reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. To date, ALDI has redesigned packaging to remove or reduce excess plastic from products such as teas and bread. In select stores, ALDI is also introducing alternative packaging for perishables like blueberries and tomatoes, which uses 20% less plastic than traditional containers, and for mixed bell peppers, which uses 44% less plastic. In addition, the grocery retailer is labeling products to promote recycling at home, using cardboard sleeves for more than 90% of apparel items, and trialing recyclable and compostable paper bags for apples in some stores. 

ALDI has never offered single-use plastic bags at checkout and only sells reusable plastic and cloth bags, which the company estimates has kept more than 15 billion bags out of landfills and oceans. ALDI is also testing a new initiative to remove all multi-use plastic bags from six stores in Richmond, Virginia. 

“The global impact of plastics can’t be ignored,” said Hart. “We can’t get rid of plastic everywhere overnight, but we continue to work to eliminate plastics anywhere we can. Where we do need plastic, we are committed to choosing materials that contribute to a circular plastic economy.” 

Expand sustainable sourcing of coffee, while continuing to source cocoa and seafood sustainably. Together with its business partners, ALDI will promote human rights, increase supply chain transparency and ensure products are designed and produced in an environmentally friendly way. More than 40 coffee products are currently certified as sustainable, and ALDI is the second-largest private-label purchaser of Fair Trade USA coffee. In addition, all Barissimo and Simply Nature coffees will be certified as sustainably sourced by the end of 2022. 

All ALDI exclusive-brand chocolate bars and chocolate confectionary are certified as sustainably sourced by Fairtrade, Fair Trade USA or Rainforest Alliance, which drives long-term environmental impact across the globe. 

All ALDI-exclusive brand fresh, frozen and canned seafood is sourced from responsible fisheries and farms, and 100 seafood products are certified as sustainably sourced by a third party. ALDI has taken a further step in its commitment to seafood sustainability by making the origin of its brand of wild-caught seafood transparent and available to the public through the Ocean Disclosure Project (ODP).