Real abolishes plastic bags for fruit and vegetables

The Real supermarket chain is increasingly committed to sustainability and wants to abolish the plastic bags in the fruit and vegetable department by the end of 2020. Washable reusable nets or paper bags made from recycled paper are available as alternatives.

In a first step, as of the end of February 2019 customers will be offered reusable nets for carrying fruit and vegetables. Over the course of the year plastic bags are to gradually disappear completely from the fruit and vegetable department, so that by the end of 2020 customers will have a choice between washable reusable nets and free recycled paper bags as are used on weekly markets.  In a test run conducted in several Real stores in summer 2018, the reusable nets were tested for their practical suitability, explains the company. The durable reusable nets with drawstrings are made of robust polyester and are particularly practical for transport. Dirty nets can be washed at 30 degrees in the washing machine. If a net tears, it can be recycled. The nets will be available at a price of €0.79 each. However, during the gradual transition from plastic bags to reusable nets, free paper bags will remain available to customers.

“Completely abandoning plastic bags in the fruit and vegetable department alone, will save us 70 million plastic bags a year. This corresponds to more than 140 metric tons of plastic,” explains Real CEO Patrick Müller-Sarmiento, of. “People no longer just want to eat good food, they also want to do so with a clear conscience. As part of our corporate strategy of ‘acting responsibly’, we are therefore constantly working to offer even better and more sustainable products. Our goal is to offer only sustainable products by 2030,” says Müller-Sarmiento.

In addition to introducing reusable nets, Real – like many discounters and food manufacturers – has introduced further projects to reduce packaging waste and plastic waste. For example, at most Real service counters customers can shop for meat, sausage and cheese products and put them in their own reusable containers that they bring with them. They place their open reusable containers on a special tray. Staff at the fresh food counters balance out the weight of the tray and container, place the order in the container and hand it back over the counter to the customer still on the tray. Thus the customer’s container has no direct contact with the counters and the high hygiene requirements remain guaranteed. The food retailer Tegut has also introduced this system.

In the field of product packaging, Real is also working on new, resource-saving solutions. Alternative packaging types, such as grass paper trays, are being used for example for organic limes and organic vine tomatoes. For organic ginger, organic sweet potatoes and organic mangoes, Real is now using Laser-Labels (Natural Laser Labelling) to distinguish organic goods from conventionally cultivated products. For other products, Real is investigating the possibility of using alternative packaging.

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