Sustainable Retailing

In today’s blog, we are going to take a dive in the world of the retailing sector. A sector that is known for its food waste and unnecessary use of plastics. Many of these initiatives are in line with some of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This article is highlighting some of the positive initiatives major retail cooperations are taking in order to make a positive impact on society and its future. The focus will be on some of those retailers active in Belgium like Carrefour, Colruyt, and Delhaize.

Getting rid of the so-called bad plastics and Corporate Social Responsibility

In February the French multinational retailer Carrefour announced the replacement of the plastic trays they use in its butcher shop. These plastic trays will be replaced by sustainable cardboard variants or recycled plastic. This policy is in line with the company’s battle against plastic. Another example can be found in the replacement of plastic goods for onetime use in sustainable alternatives. Under the name “BePulp” Carrefour has provided its clients with a sustainable alternative for plastic cups, drinking straws, forks, knives, and spoons.

Also, retailer Colruyt is following a similar path towards sustainable packaging alternatives. By changing their EPS plastic platters into recyclable cardboard ones Colruyt expects to reduce its impact on climate change by 55%. Since the measure will provide a decrease of 130 million tons worth of plastics. In its quest to create sustainable value Colruyt works around five themes: People, Prosperity, Peace, Partnership and Planet.  Seven Sustainable Development Goals are divided around these themes.

In 2012 Delhaize Group started the Zero Food Waste Initiative. The goal was to reduce the number of unsold products by donating them to social associations. By 2020 Delhaize is planning to donate the full 100% of unsold goods. Delhaize sees in this action a win-win situation. By looking for new ways to provide a destination to its unsold products, the retailer is getting rid of these products and at the same time helping those people that need it the most.


Given the above, we encourage the steps that some of the retailers are taking in order to reduce their waist and that of its customers. By taking responsibility, retailers really can make a difference in providing sustainable alternatives for packaging. Despite some important steps are being taken, we think there is still a long way to go. After all, retailers play a crucial role in the way customers consume.

By Thomas Goossens (


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