Good packaging is important: it protects products, allows food to be stored for longer and often provides useful information. As a retailer, we do our best to minimise the environmental impact of the packaging we use. We do this by avoiding, reducing and reusing, as well as by focusing on recycling and more sustainable materials. Step by step. By 2025, we want 100 % of our private label packaging to be reusable, recyclable, compostable or biodegradable. To make sure that you can shop with peace of mind.
Most sustainable packaging solutions
Boo plastic, long live cardboard? The less packaging, the better? It is not that simple at all. The packaging solution with the least environmental impact is not always what you would think at first sight. This is because many elements play a role in the entire ecological footprint of a product and its packaging. You have to take into account food spoilage, energy use in the production of the packaging, water use, transport and more.
For our private labels – such as Boni and Spar – we accept the challenge of selecting the most eco-friendly packaging for each product. Our internal sustainability experts are conducting research for this purpose, including life cycle analysis screenings. An exercise which isn’t finished yet, but which we’re getting better at, step by step.
Concretely, we reduce the environmental impact of our packaging by focusing on three pillars:
- Refuse, reduce, reuse
- Opting for more sustainable materials
- Focus on recycling
Refuse, reduce, reuse
Of course, we want to avoid packaging whenever we can (refuse). If at all possible, we just leave it out! We offer fruit and vegetables in bulk whenever possible, i.e. without packaging.
Packaging is sometimes needed to keep a product fresh for longer. After all, food waste often has a greater environmental impact than packaging. When packaging is needed, we try to make it thinner or smaller (reduce) so that we have to use fewer materials. Here are some recent examples:
You can also avoid packaging by reusing it (reuse). Again and again and again ...
- With the reusable bags for fruit and vegetables we save a staggering 150 million plastic bags every year.
- To take your shopping home, you can rely on the reusable Colruyt Lowest Prices, OKay and Collect&Go cardboard or plastic folding boxes.
- In several Bio-Planet shops you can fill your own containers with nuts, cereals, breakfast cereals, meat, cheese and fresh preparations. In Braine-l'Alleud, even with washing and maintenance products.
- And in the reusable Bio-Planet organic cotton bread bag, your bread stays nice and crispy.
Focus on recycling
Most packaging does not pose an environmental problem in itself. However, when it ends up in nature, it does. Fortunately, a lot of packaging material is recyclable.
Together with the entire Belgian retail sector, we are committed to making most of our household packaging recyclable. We prefer packaging which is made entirely of one type of material. If this is not possible, we will use materials that can easily be separated. More of our packaging will now display icons that tell you which waste stream the packaging belongs to. We limit dark packaging because it is more difficult to recycle. And we also make sure that labels and printed foil layers ('sleeves') do not negatively affect the recycling process.
Of course, it is up to you to actually sort the packaging. This is the only way they can be recycled and given a new life. Did you know that the new blue PMD bag has been introduced in almost all of Belgium? In addition to the traditional plastic bottles and flasks, metal packaging and drink cartons, all household plastic packaging is now allowed in this bag. This includes yoghurt pots, margarine tubs and more.
It goes without saying that we also join in! First in our stores, then again in our return centres. In 2020 we recycled 85 % of our waste. For our outer packaging this is 100 %.
Opting for more sustainable materials
We use a part of our recyclable packaging waste to make new packaging, such as cardboard trays for fruit or cold meats. We also increasingly choose recycled materials for the plastic packaging of our own brands.
- Our first packaging made of 100 % recycled plastic is on the shelves: Boni liquid detergents and all-purpose cleaner sprays.
- By 2022, we want all plastic packaging of our private label beverages to be made of at least 25 % recycled plastic (rPET). By 2025, we are aiming for 50 %. We are also switching to transparent bottles that can be recycled again and again.
Our packaging made from recycled material is, in turn, recyclable. A fine example of circular economy!
Innovative packaging techniques
Our R&D team is working with producers, knowledge institutions and universities on research projects for new packaging. Less food is lost thanks to innovative storage technologies and packaging that extends the shelf life of fruit and vegetables. In this way, we save a lot of raw materials and resources needed for food production, processing and transport.
- Our avocados are given a 100 % plant-based protective coating. It keeps them from drying out and ripening too quickly. And so they last up to twice as long.
- Our Boni chicory also stays fresh twice as long thanks to a new breathable packaging with microperforations. It lets less oxygen in and less water out.
We reduce the environmental impact of the packaging of our private label products by avoiding, reducing and re-using them, focusing on recycling and using more sustainable materials. Together we contribute to a better environment, step by step.
With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.