Together with Plastic Bank, an innovative social enterprise that has been building ethical recycling ecosystems in coastal communities worldwide since 2013, METRO is launching an international, multi-year collaboration with ambitious goals: in the first 12 months of the partnership alone, the goal is to collect more than 65 million plastic bottles, equivalent to over 1 million kilos of plastic waste, before they enter the world's oceans. To this end, the METRO Plastic Initiative unites METRO customers, suppliers, and Plastic Bank. The initiative will be kicked off in 24 METRO countries worldwide on World Oceans Day.
The cooperation will be launched successively in METRO stores worldwide with a 2-week commercial campaign, during which the topic of plastic will then be focused on even more strongly on all the wholesaler's channels. 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 colour. This additional information enables customers to sustainably make conscious purchasing decisions, improve their own recycling behaviour and do good at the same time. This is because with every campaign product purchased, METRO and its customers, as well as participating suppliers, support the work of the Canadian social enterprise Plastic Bank.
“Sustainability is a strategic must for all companies. At METRO we pave the way for our 16 million customers to run their businesses sustainably. With the METRO Plastic Initiative, we empower them on the one side to tackle plastic waste in their own operations. On the other side we join forces with them, selected suppliers, and Plastic Bank to keep around 1.3 million kilos of plastic waste out of the oceans annually while supporting vulnerable coastal communities at the same time,” said Andrea Euenheim, the METRO AG Management Board member responsible for sustainability. “We are proud to be the world's first wholesaler to work with Plastic Bank. Together with our customers and suppliers we will create sustainable impact in our METRO countries, in vulnerable communities, for our planet and generations to come, contributing to the goals of the UN Agenda 2030.”
Founded in 2013 by CEO David Katz, Plastic Bank is revolutionizing the world’s recycling systems to create a regenerative, inclusive, and circular plastic economy. The social enterprise builds ethical recycling ecosystems in coastal communities and reprocesses the materials for reintroduction into the global manufacturing supply chain. Collectors in Plastic Bank’s ecosystem receive a premium for the materials they collect to better help them provide basic family necessities such as groceries, school tuition and health insurance. Collected material is reborn as Social Plastic® which is reintegrated into products and packaging. This creates a closed-loop supply chain while helping those who collect it.
“Our partnership with METRO and its partners is helping the world prevent plastic waste from entering the oceans while improving the lives of collector communities,” says David Katz, Founder and CEO at Plastic Bank. “This initiative will help brands, suppliers and consumers quantify and act on their plastic footprint – increasing transparency and accountability, in a bid to drive real and lasting change for our planet.”
Using the power of relationships to minimize the plastic footprint
In line with the 17th sustainability goal of the 2030 Agenda, Partnerships for the Goals, the METRO Plastic Initiative brings together consumer goods companies that are already focused on reducing their plastic footprint. 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 tackling 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. The latter include Bolton, PepsiCo, Reckitt Health and Reckitt Hygiene & Home, SC Johnson, Unilever Retail and Unilever Professional by Diversey, GSK, Nestle Professional, P&G, Essity, Fromagerie Bel, Henkel Laundry Care and Henkel Beauty Care, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, Coca-Cola HBC and Danone. METRO is also actively contributing to the campaign with its own brand range.
At METRO, the Own Brand Technical Packaging team has been working since 2014 on an ambitious 3R strategy together with 17 METRO countries. To this end, critical materials such as PVC and EPS are to be eliminated by 2023, and paper-based packaging is to come from certified sustainable forestry. 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 300 tons of plastic packaging by 2023. By the end of fiscal year 2019/20, the target had already been exceeded with a total of 491 tons, almost half a million kilos, of plastic packaging saved.
Raising more awareness
Still, plastic remains indispensable in the food sector in many cases. The wholesale company, which focuses primarily on the needs of restaurateurs and traders, is aware of the tensions surrounding the issue of packaging. While on the one hand great efforts are being made to reduce packaging, on the other it guarantees quality and shelf life – and is thus essential for hygiene standards and the fight against food waste. And not least due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread closure of the HoReCa sector, take-out and delivery models have become enormously popular – and with them the use of single-use packaging. METRO therefore offers a wide range of products that enables customers to switch to environmentally friendly packaging made from bagasse, for example. In addition, the wholesaler is focusing on awareness and will therefore use the METRO Plastic Initiative to provide its customers with even more information on the subject with the aim to empower customers for conscious choices and proper recycling. The latter being an important topic for METRO's professional customers because less waste means lower costs.
The METRO Plastic Initiative allows for visibility of the topic in the stores, but also on the wholesaler's digital channels, offering key insights and facts about end consumer needs and demands on the one hand, while at the same time showing how HoReCa customers can respond to them. The biggest achievement though will be made jointly with Plastic Bank, recovering at least 1,3 million kilos – the equivalent of 65 million plastic bottles – of plastic waste from the environment per year while at the same time helping to improve the situation of vulnerable coastal communities.
The progress of the joint campaign will be tracked online using Plastic Bank’s Alchemy™ blockchain platform for the greatest possible transparency. The progress of the joint campaign will be tracked online using Plastic Bank’s Alchemy™ blockchain platform for the greatest possible transparency. Starting in fall 2021, the impact of the joint campaign of customers, suppliers, METRO and Plastic Bank will be reported via the Plastic Bank partner website. Updates will also be shared via our METRO Plastic Initiative website. Impulses and ideas regarding plastic (waste) are also shared in this article on our online magazine MPULSE.
Plastic Bank® empowers the regenerative society. We are helping the world stop ocean plastic while improving the lives of collector communities. Plastic Bank builds ethical recycling ecosystems in coastal communities and reprocesses the materials for reintroduction into the global manufacturing supply chain. Collectors receive a premium for the materials they collect, which helps them provide basic family necessities such as groceries, cooking fuel, school tuition and health insurance. Plastic Bank’s Alchemy™ blockchain platform secures the entire transaction and provides real-time data visualization – allowing for transparency, traceability, and rapid scalability. The collected material is reborn as Social Plastic® which can be easily reintegrated into products and packaging as part of a closed-loop supply chain. Plastic Bank currently operates in Haiti, Brazil, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Egypt. Learn more at plasticbank.com.
METRO is a leading international wholesale company with food and non-food assortments that specialises in serving the needs of hotels, restaurants and caterers (HoReCa) as well as independent traders. Around the world, METRO has some 16 million customers who can choose whether to shop in one of the large-format stores, order online and collect their purchases at the store or have them delivered. METRO also supports the competitiveness of entrepreneurs and independent businesses with digital solutions and thereby contributes to cultural diversity in retail and hospitality. Sustainability is a key pillar of METRO’s business. METRO has been listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for 7 consecutive years. The company operates in 34 coun-tries and employs more than 97,000 people worldwide. In financial year 2019/20, METRO generated sales of €25.6 billion.
Additionally, have a look in our online magazine MPULSE.de, where we report on what moves our customers, employees, partners, and suppliers – and what we move for them.