Aldi UK rolls out AI to track flexible plastic packaging

Aldi is using an AI-powered system to track the journey of flexible plastic packaging collected from the public via its front-of-store points.

eco2Veritas, developed by Greenback Recycling Technologies, allows the budget supermarket to track and certify the amount of flexible plastic collected, calculate how much of it is sorted and into which polymers, understand how much is reprocessed, and identify what end products it is made into.

Aldi currently collects around 300 tonnes of post-consumer flexible plastic packaging per year.

The move its part of the Flexible Plastic Fund (FPF), established in May 2021 by Mars, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever, which aims to help supermarkets and retailers independently track the flow of material.

When the flexible plastic is tracked and certified as recycled by eco2Veritas, Aldi receives funding from the FPF which supports the recycling of the material.

Material from the retailer's front-of-store collection points is taken to plastics recycler Jayplas until there is enough material to sort into two main polymers.

This material is then pelletised and the Polyethylene is used to make refuse sacks, whilst the Polypropylene is used to make crates and trays.

In February, Aldi received its first certificate generated by eco2Veritas, which confirmed 62 tonnes of in-scope Polyethylene and 25 tonnes of in-scope Polypropylene were recycled.

The material was collected over a number of months in 2023, with additional volumes set to go undergo certification in the weeks ahead.

“We are committed to tackling plastic waste," said Luke Emery, plastic and packaging director, Aldi UK. "We know this is an issue that matters to our customers too, which is why we’re working with the Flexible Plastic Fund to further improve the recycling of flexible plastics collected in our stores.”

Partners of the FPF now also include Abel & Cole, Ella’s Kitchen, Kiddylicious, Koninklijke Douwe Egberts, KP Snacks, Lotus Bakeries, McCain Foods, Natural Balance Foods, Ocado Retail, The Collective, pladis and Vitaflo.

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