Dutch Supermarket Invests In Packaging-Free Concept

Albert heijn

Customers in The Hague, Netherlands, can get acquainted with the improved packaging-free concept that Albert Heijn introduced last year. Last year, three Albert Heijn XL stores learned from the technology, the range composition, and customer experiences.

Packaging-free shopping is part of a more significant movement towards less packaging material and more reuse.

The launch of AH Packaging Free, a wall with packaging-free products that customers can take with them in their reusable packaging, was well received by customers. In the past year, it became clear that making packaging-free shopping a new habit takes time.

Anita Scholte op Reimer, director of quality and sustainability at Albert Heijn, said that less packaging material and reuse are essential to the company's packaging policy.

"In recent years, we have shown that we can successfully implement this movement, for example, by replacing the free plastic bags for fruit and vegetables with reusable fresh bags. Your packaging is the most sustainable, and we believe packaging-free shopping can become a routine. The improvements we are implementing will contribute to that," said Reimer.

In the Albert Heijn on De Savornin Lohmanplein in The Hague, customers see the further development of the concept. The wall comprises two instead of six meters of packaging-free products with the most relevant range. This makes the choice easier. The products are competitively priced, and most are at Price Favourite level.

Several technical improvements have made the concept more user-friendly, including the vibration function, which ensures that products come out of the cartridge more quickly and there is less 'sticking risk' with composite products such as granola. The clamp control has been improved for more precise dosing, and a scale is included in each cartridge so that customers can see the dispensed amount during filling.

Trial bags are an interim solution because bringing packaging is not yet automatic. With these improvements, the system works more intuitively, making it easier for customers to shop without packaging. Several improvements have also been implemented at the current stores with AH Packaging Free.

Albert Heijn is constantly working on using less packaging and 100 percent recyclable and as much recycled material as possible. On the way to the ambition to use 20 million kilos less packaging material by 2025 compared to 2018, 13 million kilos have already been saved in recent years.

The supermarket works daily with internal and external experts on sustainable packaging innovations. An excellent example is the AH Packathon, where sustainable thinkers, creative designers, and other experts are set to work on various packaging dilemmas. Albert Heijn was working with the winning teams to implement their ideas.