Environmental organisations ClientEarth and Plastic Soup Foundation have complained to Dutch financial regulator AFM about an alleged lack of transparency on plastic use at Ahold Delhaize, owner of Albert Heijn and Etos.
They accuse the group of breaking European rules by not publicly disclosing how much plastic their organisations use and its environmental effects.
‘As a market leader, Ahold Delhaize needs to address its overreliance on plastics and turn off the tap on single-use plastic packaging,’ said Jurjen de Waal, plastic waste campaigner at Plastic Soup Foundation. ‘It should do this by including re-use and refill options and cutting out unnecessary packaging.’
She added to Nu.nl: ‘Quite apart from the fact that it is bad for humanity and for the environment, investors also need this information. They risk suddenly being confronted with the climate consequences of policy around plastic.’
In a Dutch first, the organisations complain that Ahold Delhaize is breaching its legal requirements under the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive, suggesting that plastic use is now a ‘material financial risk’ which needs to be disclosed to investors.
Plastic Soup Foundation claims that 80% of Albert Heijn products have plastic packaging, although a Natuur & Milieu study earlier this week said the supermarket did better than most others in using recyclable wrappings.
In other countries, new laws are being implemented to limit plastic use, such as a ban on packing less than 1.5 kilos of fresh fruit or vegetables in the material in France, from next year. The climate campaigners claim that new EU laws and policies as well as legal action on plastic pollution make heavy plastic-consumers ‘vulnerable’.
A spokesperson for Ahold Delhaize told Nu.nl that the organisation is a signatory of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s global commitment on changing plastic use, and reports what it is doing in its annual reports.
In 2020, for instance, the organisation said: ‘Ahold Delhaize brands are working towards zero plastic waste from own-brand packaging by 2025 by making the plastic packaging we use 100% recyclable, compostable or reusable.’
The spokesperson reportedly added: ‘We are optimising the packaging of own-label products, reducing the number of plastic carrier bags and recycle plastic waste generated in our own facilities.’
The AFM has no obligation to take action on the complaint.
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