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Austria: HOFER is switching to recycled PET for fruit & vegetables

Discount Retail Chain HOFER's (owned by Aldi Süd) overall sustainability initiative “Today for Tomorrow” includes the “HOFER Packaging Mission: Avoid. Reuse. Recycle.” This initiative is progressing steadily and numerous successes have already been recorded. The discounter is currently working on the gradual conversion from conventional plastic trays to recycled plastic trays for fruit and vegetables.

With this initiative, HOFER makes an important contribution to making packaging more sustainable and reducing it to a minimum. The discount store has set itself ambitious packaging goals for this implementation. In the case of fruit and vegetables, the amount of packaging is always saved and reduced, taking product quality and food losses into account. Strengthening the circular economy is a central theme of the HOFER packaging mission. An important measure to achieve this is the use of recycled material in our packaging. The increasing demand for recycling material gives the disposed plastic a value and, as a result, promotes the development of the circular economy. The gradual conversion of the plastic trays to completely recycled PET is currently underway, the conversion has already been completed, as far as possible, for pears and grapes. Step by step, all other product groups such as stone fruit, peppers and tomatoes are now being converted to the more resource-efficient packaging. Recycled PET represents a more environmentally friendly alternative to the use of "primary plastic". This conversion and the use of recycled PET enable HOFER to save 418 tons of "primary plastic" annually. In the spirit of the circular economy, plastic trays made of recycled PET are available again for the manufacture of products in Austria after disposal and thus help to substitute primary materials.

PET is generally a plastic that is very easy to recycle. The closed cycle of PET bottles, new bottles are made from used PET bottles, has been firmly established for years. In contrast, PET packaging such as bowls, drinking cups and lids can currently only be recycled to a limited extent. This is exactly where the research project initiated by the FH Campus Wien comes in. Its aim is to optimize collection, sorting and recycling processes for the previously non-recyclable PET packaging in such a way that a closed material cycle is achieved. This allows new packaging to be made from used PET packaging. HOFER supports this project both financially and with technical expertise and is available as a partner for the implementation.

The project, which started in November 2019, makes an important contribution to the implementation of the European district economic package, which stipulates the recycling of 50% of plastic packaging by 2025.

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