With ambitious goals: to collect around 45 million plastic bottles, equivalent to 900 tons of plastic waste, before they enter the world's oceans. Following on from the first year of the initiative, the total number of bottles collected is expected to exceed 100 million, having already collected over 65 million bottles since the campaign was launched in June 2021. The METRO Plastic Initiative unites METRO customers, suppliers, and Plastic Bank and is being implemented in many METRO countries worldwide.
The cooperation will be renewed successively in METRO stores worldwide with a dedicated commercial campaign through all channels of the wholesaler. The campaign will focus on country specific products with more sustainable plastic packaging, for example because it requires less virgin plastic material after a redesign, contains recycled content, is compostable or because it is much easier to recycle due to a change in material or color. This additional information enables customers to consciously make sustainable purchasing decisions and improve their own recycling behavior at the same time. With every campaign product purchased, METRO and its customers, as well as participating suppliers, support the work of the Canadian social enterprise Plastic Bank.
“Plastic waste is one of the biggest global challenges and our customers are getting increasingly aware and willing to act on it. At METRO, we clearly see the plastic as a valuable material which needs to be used with care and responsibility and not to be disposed in the nature after a single use. As part of METRO´s sustainability agenda for achieving climate neutrality in 2040, we want to promote a circular economy and contribute to avoiding plastic waste being disposed in the environment”, says Veronika Pountcheva, Senior Vice President Corporate Responsibility METRO AG. “Raising awareness and fighting the plastic pollution is a big task and needs collective action. We are therefore honored to partner with Plastic Bank to address environmental and social challenges to reduce plastic waste. We are very happy with the growing engagement of our suppliers, which helped us save more than 1,300 tons of plastic from entering the world’s oceans since we started.”
Co-founded in 2013 by CEO David Katz and CTO Shaun Frankson, Plastic Bank empowers Ocean Stewards to stop ocean plastic. The social enterprise builds and nurtures ethical collection communities where members exchange plastic for life improving benefits. Exchanges are recorded through a blockchain secured platform that enables traceable collection, secures income, and verifies reporting. The collected material is processed into Social Plastic® feedstock for reuse in products and packaging.
“We’re beyond thrilled to extend our partnership with METRO’s Plastic Initiative for a second year”, so David Katz, Founder and CEO of Plastic Bank. “Together with METRO, we have inspired its customers, suppliers and retailers with choices that helped pave a path out of pollution and poverty for vulnerable coastal communities.”
Leveraging the power of relationships to minimize the plastic footprint
In line with the 17th sustainability development goal of the 2030 United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development, actively initiating partnerships to achieve the goals, the METRO Plastic Initiative brings together consumer goods companies that are already focused on reducing their plastic footprint. The participating suppliers include Bolton, Diageo, Essity Professional, Fromagerie Bel, Lavazza, PepsiCo, P&G, Reckitt Health and Reckitt Hygiene & Home, SC Johnson, Unilever Retail and Unilever Professional by Diversey. METRO is also actively contributing to the campaign with its own brand range.
All suppliers participating in the METRO Plastic Initiative actively pursue plastic reduction strategies. These mostly focus on the three "Rs" of the circular economy: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. In collaboration with Plastic Bank, the initiative is jointly building an additional pillar, a fourth "R" – Recover. Recovery aims to reintroduce discarded and environmentally harmful plastic into closed loops by collecting plastic waste before it reaches the oceans and reprocessing it for further use. Regarding the plastic pollution of oceans this pillar proves to be as important.
By purchasing designated campaign products, METRO, its customers, and participating suppliers support the work of Plastic Bank.
At METRO, the Own Brand Technical Packaging team has been working since 2014 on an ambitious 3R strategy together with 18 METRO countries. To this end, critical materials such as PVC and EPS are to be phased out by 2023, and paper-based packaging is to come from certified sustainable forestry or to have at least 70% recycled content. Unnecessary and problematic plastic packaging is eliminated, black colored ink particles are replaced, materials are exchanged, containers are redesigned and recycled plastic content is implemented. In 2018, METRO committed to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's New Plastics Economy with an intermediate goal to save an additional 2,000 tons of plastic packaging by 2023. Since 2018, more than 1,240 tons of plastic have been saved.
Progress on campaign website
The progress of the joint campaign will be tracked online using Plastic Bank’s Alchemy™ block-chain platform for the greatest possible transparency. The impact of the joint campaign of customers, suppliers, METRO and Plastic Bank will continue to be reported via the Plastic Bank partner website. Updates will also be shared via the METRO Plastic Initiative website. Impulses and ideas regarding plastic (waste) are also shared in this article on METRO online magazine MPULSE.
Plastic Bank empowers Ocean Stewards to stop ocean plastic. Ethical collection communities exchange plastic for life improving benefits. Exchanges are recorded through a blockchain secured platform that enables traceable collection, secures income, and verifies reporting. Collected material is processed into Social Plastic feedstock for reuse in products and packaging. Plastic Bank®, Social Plastic® and Alchemy™ are trademarks of The Plastic Bank Recycling Corporation.
METRO is a leading international wholesale company, with food and non-food assortments, which specialises in serving the needs of hotels, restaurants, and caterers (HoReCa) as well as independent merchants (Traders). Around the world, METRO has some 17 million customers who benefit from the wholesale company’s unique multichannel mix. Customers can choose between shopping in one of the large stores in their area or delivery (Food Service Distribution, FSD) all digitally supported and connected. At the same time, METRO MARKETS is an international online marketplace for professional customers that has been growing and expanding continuously since 2019. Acting sustainably is one of the company principles of METRO, which has been listed in various sustainability indices and rankings for many years, including FTSE4Good, MSCI, CDP and the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. METRO operates in more than 30 countries and employs over 95,000 people worldwide. In financial year 2020/21, METRO generated sales of €24.8 billion. More information can be found at MPULSE.de, the METRO online magazine.