HACKENSACK – Since Aldi’s grand opening nearly two years ago in Hackensack, regular shoppers have become familiar with the discount grocery chain’s efforts to be as eco-conscious as possible.
Its 17,000-square foot Main Street building was created using recycled materials and LED lights. Inside the store, there’s a large produce section, featuring a wide variety of organic and all-natural foods, as well antibiotic-free meats. And, at checkout, Aldi doesn’t offer single-use plastic bags, a practice meant to encourage patrons to bring their own reusable bags to tote groceries home.
This week, the chain furthered its commitment to cut down on waste in its stores, announcing that by 2025, 100% of its packaging, including plastic packaging, will be reusable, recyclable or compostable. Additionally, Aldi plans to reduce its products packaging material by at least 15%.
Since more than 90% of the products in the store are made by Aldi, the chain believes it's in a key position to influence how its items are sources, produced and delivered to shelves.
In a press release issued Wednesday, Aldi U.S. CEO Jason Hart said the plan is a new way to build upon the company’s existing sustainability initiatives.
"Aldi has never offered single-use plastic shopping bags. And while we're pleased that we've helped keep billions of plastic grocery bags out of landfills and oceans, we want to continue to do more. The commitments we're making to reduce plastic packaging waste are an investment in our collective future that we are proud to make,” Hart said.
By company estimates, nixing plastic checkout bags has helped keep approximately 15 billion single-use plastic bags out of landfills and oceans.
Environmental advocates say plastic bags are one the biggest sources of litter and can harm wildlife, as well as water quality. However, opponents to such measures believe the regulation could drive up costs for local businesses, which would eventually trickle down to consumers.
In the U.S., California is the only one with a plastic ban in place, though several states, such as Connecticut and Washington, are considering laws. Other states have focused more on implementing recycling programs or initiating fees to discourage the use of plastic bags altogether.
Last year, Aldi recycled more than 250,000 tons of materials, including paper, cardboard, plastic and metal, an effort that the company said avoided “the greenhouse gas equivalent of 8,094,533 gallons of gasoline.” In July 2018, Aldi partnered with How2Recycle, a standardized labeling system, to empower its customers to recycle.
Founded nearly 60 years ago in Germany by the Albrecht family, the chain arrived in the United States in 1976. Over the last four decades, it has become known for its low prices and private label brands.
With about 1,800 locations in 35 states, Aldi is halfway through a $5.3 billion, five-year expansion initiative that will grow its store base by almost 50% and modernize most of its existing stores.
Over the last few years, Aldi has been steadily expanding across New Jersey, by building new stores and revamping old ones. Besides Hackensack, there are two other Aldi supermarkets in northern New Jersey: Lodi and Clifton.