Colruyt Group introduces reusable bags for fruit and vegetables

Colruyt Group is the first retailer in Belgium who commits to removing all disposable bags for fruit and vegetables from its stores. It will allow them to save some 150 million bags a year. To make this possible, the group will introduce a new reusable bag in June 2019. Bio-Planet will take the lead and stop making available disposable bags in its stores as from 19 June 2019. At the same time, a few pilot stores of the other formats (Colruyt Lowest Prices, OKay, OKay Compact and Spar Colruyt Group) will also start this same initiative. By the end of October 2019, all the group's food stores will replace all disposable plastic bags with reusable bags. Colruyt Group will guide the customers of all store formats during this transition and is confident about their collaboration to make a positive difference for the environment.

A bag to use more than 100 times

Colruyt Group wants to take its responsibility to continue reducing the use of plastic in its stores. For this reason, the group will stop providing disposable bags for fruit and vegetables in all store formats as from October 2019. To make this possible, the group had a reusable bag developed, which customers can reuse more than 100 times. The transparent bag is machine-washable and is strong enough to hold 4 kg of products. At the checkout, the tare weight (37 grams) is automatically deducted so that the customer only pays for the net weight of fruit and/or vegetables.

With this commitment, Colruyt Group wants to participate pro-actively in the implementation of an overall solution to diminish the use of plastic in Belgium. By offering one solution for all its store formats, the group wants to make it easier for customers to make the switch. Christophe Dehandschutter, Sales Manager of Colruyt Lowest Prices and in charge of this project: "We firmly believe in the sale of unpacked fruit and vegetables. What matters is that the customer can choose and shop comfortably. It makes us happy to propose the most sustainable solution that also takes into account user-friendliness. With our customers' collaboration, the new bag will enable us to avoid about 150 million plastic bags a year."

50 pilot stores

On 19 June 2019, we will start in 50 pilot stores: all Bio-Planet stores (29) and 21 food stores of Colruyt Lowest Prices, OKay, OKay Compact and Spar Colruyt Group in the regions of Lier, Kortrijk, Mons and Dinant. They will be the first to remove all disposable bags for fruit and vegetables from their stores.

We will gather feedback from customers and co-workers of these pilot stores. Based on their reactions, the group will optimise the way to make the bags available and the communication about it to prepare for the national rollout in October 2019. By the end of that month, all disposable plastic bags will have disappeared from all stores.

Guide customers during the transition period

Colruyt Group wants to motivate its customers to contribute actively to this important transition for the environment. All Xtra customers will receive five free reusable bags for their first purchase of fruit or vegetables in the 50 pilot stores no longer offering disposable bags.

During the national rollout in October 2019, we will repeat this initiative in all other stores. "We have approx. 4.5 million Xtra customers today and we have more than 600 food stores in our group. So this is a significant joint action with a great positive impact on the environment", Marc Hofman, Colruyt Group COO Retail adds.

Continue efforts step-by-step

Over the past years, Colruyt Group already took several initiatives to avoid as much packaging waste as possible in the stores and to reduce the use of disposable plastic. Recyclable cold meat trays (saving 150 tonnes of plastic a year), recycled plastic for potato bags of 50 kg (saving 50 tonnes of plastic a year) and new cold meat packaging at OKay (consisting of 75% recycled material) are but a few examples.

"We keep working hard in this direction", continues Christophe Dehandschutter. "Packaging is a priority in our sustainability approach. Unfortunately, it is not yet possible to ban plastic from wholesale completely, but we will continue to make efforts to avoid and reduce plastic wherever we can and replace it with reusable, recycled or renewable material." At the same time, Colruyt also actively participates in the 'Joining hands against street litter' action to produce a real positive behaviour change to fight the litter problem. In this action, we collaborate actively with suppliers, co-workers and customers.

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Boilerplate Colruyt Group

Colruyt Group operates in the food and non-food distribution sector in Belgium, France and Luxembourg with approximately 550 own stores and over 580 affiliated stores. In Belgium this includes Colruyt, OKay, Bio-Planet, Cru, Dreamland, Dreambaby and the affiliated stores Spar and Spar Compact. In France, in addition to Colruyt stores, there are also affiliated Coccinelle, CocciMarket and Panier Sympa stores. The group is also actively involved in the foodservice business (supply of food products to hospitals, company canteens and catering businesses) in Belgium (Solucious). The other activities comprise the sale of fuel in Belgium (DATS 24), printing and document management solutions (Symeta) and the production of green energy. The group employs over 29.300 employees and recorded a EUR 9,0 billion revenue in 2017/18. Colruyt is listed on NYSE Euronext Brussels (COLR) under ISIN code BE0974256852.

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