Sustainable packaging and recycling for less waste

Anyone who regularly shops in our supermarkets already knows that we’re constantly trying new ways of combating the mountain of waste. You’ll see that too on our packaging: recyclable plates for cold meats, re-usable wine bottles, etc. - without reducing the quality or wasting food. Because it’s a complex balancing act. What are the challenges for environmentally-friendly packaging companies? And where can we make a difference for customers? Time for an overview of our achievements and plans.

Why is packaging needed

Packaging is needed to protect the product. Food has a longer shelf life and is not impaired as quickly when packaged. There is therefore less risk of waste. And food safety is still key for us: we like to keep food clean and tidy with a solid casing. However, we're reducing our waste mountain by focusing on three things:

  •  Using as little packaging as possible
  •  Using as much potentially recyclable material as possible
  •  Using recycled materials as much as possible
After inspection, we press the cardboard and paper into bales, which go to the recycling company.
After inspection, we press the cardboard and paper into bales, which go to the recycling company.

Avoiding packaging

We’re always looking for ways to prevent waste. Because the success of sustainable packaging lies in its simplicity. Would you like to see an example of this? The plastic bags of our Boni Selection organic bananas are being replaced by simple tapes. In doing so, our customers will be taking home 8.5 tonnes less plastic each year. We’re increasingly opting for recyclable raw materials. But if something is recyclable, it doesn’t mean that it is actually being recycled. We’re doing away with bags, packets and boxes whenever we can.

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Opting for recycled material

We don’t just recycle ourselves, we think it’s great when others do so too. Hence we opt as much as possible for recycled raw materials from our suppliers. A quarter of Boni Selection’s plastic bottles are made from recycled material. We’ve replaced the plastic in the trays for cold meat with certified carboard that can be recycled. Benefits for the environment: 130 tonnes less plastic used each year. A positive balance where your wallet is also better off.

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Opting for recycled material

We don’t just recycle ourselves, we think it’s great when others do so too. Hence we opt as much as possible for recycled raw materials from our suppliers. A quarter of Boni Selection’s plastic bottles are made from recycled material. We’ve replaced the plastic in the trays for cold meat with certified carboard that can be recycled. Benefits for the environment: 130 tonnes less plastic used each year. A positive balance where your wallet is also better off.

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Searching for alternatives

Small adjustments can make a big difference. OKay proves that too. The chain store starts with new packaging for its meat products. The trays for poultry or beef, for example, are being replaced by a more sustainable version. The new ones consist of 75% recycled material. That’s a saving. From now on, 42.9 tonnes less plastic will be produced each year by using these sustainable trays. There is therefore significantly less impact on the environment.

Sustainably packed and bagged

We’re taking a critical approach to the packaging on our shelves. We’ve therefore started by examining the environmental impact of all 8,000 of our own products, in all the retail outlets. We first want to review our food products and make their packaging more environmentally friendly. Nonetheless, we’ve already come a long way. There are a large number of products on our shelves that have been sustainably packed and bagged, always with an eye on user-friendliness, food safety and strength. And at the end you’ll be presented in our stores with a sustainable bill, because even your till receipt is made from 100% recycled paper.

More recycling with new blue PMD bag

Fost Plus will gradually introduce the new blue PMD bag until 2021. From now on, all household plastic packaging can be collected in these bags, whereas previously only plastic bottles and containers were collected, alongside metal packaging and drinks cartons. This will make it easier for households to sort their recyclables and Fost Plus can collect and recycle a lot more plastic. Colruyt Group is affiliated with Fost Plus, which is how it is contributing financially to the collection, sorting and recycling of packaging. We also make efforts in our own stores and distributions centres to significantly reduce packaging, by avoiding, reducing, recycling and reusing waste streams.The new blue bags allow our partner Fost Plus to collect and recycle up to 70,000 tonnes of extra plastic every year. That's 4 bin bags per Belgian citizen per year. This means Belgium will achieve a recycling rate for plastic packaging of 65%, far above the European recommendation of 22.5%. Because less waste is incinerated, local authorities will save 18 million euros a year and approximately 350 additional jobs will be created in the sorting centres. This is therefore an important step in the further development of the circular economy, which Colruyt Group fully supports.


With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

Responsible consumption & production