Retailers

Ahold Pilots Package-Free Produce at Albert Heijn

Trial projected to save about 595,000 pounds of plastic annually
Ahold produce worker
Photograph courtesy of Ahold Delhaize

Ahold Delhaize has begun testing package-free produce at an Albert Heijn store in Hoofddorp, Netherlands. The pilot—which is scheduled through April 28—will eliminate plastic wrapping of more than 100 uncooked organic and nonorganic products, including carrots, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, celery, oranges, pears, apples and mangoes.

The move is projected to save about 595,000 pounds of plastic annually. By conducting the trial, the company said it seeks to determine how the elimination of plastic wrap affects the quality and shelf life of the products as well as how customers react to a produce department that is mostly package-free. Potatoes, onions, herbs, convenience items and chilled produce are excluded from the pilot.

"Especially with fruits and vegetables, many customers wonder whether plastic packaging is really necessary,” said Albert Heijn Brand President Marit van Egmond in a statement. “We currently use 'dry misting' in more than 150 stores—a refined misting of water that keeps vegetables fresh for longer. We are now going to test whether the combination of 'dry misting' and no plastic packaging will improve the quality and shelf life in such a way that we can start saving on plastic packaging.”

With a mission to reduce packaging material by 25% by 2025, Albert Heijn has also moved to reduce packaging or switch to recyclable materials in other areas of the store. The retailer has replaced convex lids of soft fruit containers with a thin layer, halving the weight of the plastic packaging of fabric softener, removing foil from tea boxes and using thinner caps for water bottles.  

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