Robotic technologies in retail

At Saturn it’s Tory, at Decathlon Tally and at Zalando Torus: more and more often machines are giving people in the retail trade a hand. Robots are conquering warehouses and logistics centers as well as processes at the POS and on the sales floor. They take inventories from employees, report shelf gaps, navigate customers through the store, and shine with extra knowledge about products. According to a study by the consulting firm Elaboratum, which is available to the “Handelsblatt”, 76 percent of those surveyed can even imagine using an auxiliary robot for shopping in the future. Many industry experts are certain: Whoever uses robots will win. Let me show you why.

Pepper warns to keep your distance

The coronavirus crisis is putting retailers to a severe test. Employees are working at the limit, exposing themselves to the risk of infection with the new virus every day, and also have to deal with seemingly unteachable and ignorant customers who do not comply with hygiene regulations. That gets on their nerves.

In an Edeka store in Lindlar, North Rhine-Westphalia, a small robot has been helping out since last Wednesday. “Pepper”, who is a caregiver robot, is standing in the checkout area of the store and swears shoppers in an electronic voice to take protective measures. He also promotes consideration and solidarity with each other and advises against hamster purchases with a child-friendly expression on his face. Even if “Pepper” doesn’t get involved, the robot supports the supermarket staff in another way – by appealing to the customers’ common sense.

Tory, the inventory and shelf-lifting robot

Pepper’s brothers and sisters are pretty good at this. When the hustle and bustle come to an end at the Adler fashion house, for example, inventory robot “Tory” gets to work. The one-meter tall robot travels through the aisles of the stores, scans inventory gaps and detects misplacements by scanning RFID labels. The robot detects 99 percent of the goods on the sales floor and is up to three times faster than a human with RFID hand scanners, according to an article in the Lebensmittel-Zeitung. “While employees record 4,000 items per hour, the Metralabs machine can handle between 10,000 and 15,000,” it further describes. Tory” transmits the current stock to the merchandise management system. The system, in turn, reorders blouses, trousers, and dresses from the central warehouse and asks the employees to move them the next morning.

The Cobot: colleague robot

More and more food manufacturers are also counting on a future in which humans and robots work hand in hand. At the beginning of the year, Nestlé Germany announced its intention to expand the use of collaborating robots, called cobots.

These robots use a gripper arm to layer cartons of products such as after-eight chocolate on a pallet – up to 1.5 meters high. When the pallet is full, an employee pulls it out of the work area and places a new one inside. The Cobot relieves the employees of some of the work by packing the pallets. And that was precisely the motivation behind the changeover to the automated packing process. “Until now, one employee stacked the cartons there and lifted 6 tons per shift by hand,” says production engineer Sven-Peter Schemel in a report in the Lebensmittel-Zeitung.

You too can relieve your employees

You too can relieve your retail staff. With the automation of your disposal process, for example. I am Anton Leon Baler, an automated baling press Teamwork and efficiency are very important to me.

While Nestlé’s Cobot saves employees from lifting 6 tonnes a day, I save my colleagues 400 bendings a day. The disposal of packaging, in particular, takes time in the retail trade and is poison to the back and hands. Using cutter knives to cut up cartons is dangerous and the deep bending to collect cartons puts a strain on the spine and knees. With a baling press with automatic filling, you reduce this physical effort. Manual tearing and cutting of cartons are eliminated.

The fact that the bale chambers no longer have to be filled by hand by the employees is not only safer and healthier but also saves a lot of time. One branch alone saves over 500 working hours per year with this automated disposal. That is for two hours a day. Valuable time that your employees can use more sensibly.

Whether Tory or Pepper, robot technologies and automated processes bring enormous benefits for you and your retail business, and employees have more time for their core business.

Strautmann Umwelttechnik GmbH

EuroShop 2020: The must-sees at the world’s largest retail trade fair

Over 100,000 visitors, almost 2,400 exhibitors, around 127,600 square metres of exhibition space: EuroShop in Düsseldorf is probably the most important trade fair for the entire retail sector. A visit is obligatory, so to say. Because such a good opportunity to experience the latest techniques, innovations and trends in one place is rare. You should definitely not miss it!

I will also be present in Düsseldorf from 16 to 20.02.2020. Because you can quickly lose track of things at such a big trade fair, I’ve already done some research in advance. I will introduce you to the places you should definitely not miss and where you can discover the most interesting innovations and trends. Here are the must-sees of EuroShop 2020!

Experiencing the future today

A total of eight dimensions can be explored at EuroShop. These are theme worlds; in each dimension you will find the most interesting innovations of a key topic. I can particularly recommend one of the eight dimensions to you.

And that is the “Retail Technology” dimension. There you will find the newest technologies, for example, in relation to virtual reality and artificial intelligence. These terms come up again and again when we talk about innovations. Of course these are technologies of the future – no retailer today can run his business completely automatically. But it may already be technically possible – or we are well on the way to achieving this. You can experience the current state of the art at EuroShop. But is this really what we want? An automated retail trade? That’s exactly why you have to take a look at the innovations. Because we should already be starting to think about which role machines and technology should play in future retail trade. And also which role humans will take on in the future.

Machine as support

My opinion: Machines should support the retail trade, but the human being is still in the centre of attention. Because he has something that no machine can offer: empathy. Humans can read customers’ wishes from their eyes and satisfy them. But he needs time for that. Time that machines can give him, for example when they take over time-consuming routine tasks.

How this can look like in practice, you can learn from my colleagues at Strautmann. They will show you in hall 15 at stand E56 an innovative waste disposal solution with which you can save 2000 working hours per year. Thus, the employees have more time for what really matters: the customers. How does this work? Very simple: Through automation. An automatic baler no longer needs to be filled manually. In my opinion, solutions like this are the future of the retail trade. Therefore, the Strautmann stand is definitely one of the must-sees at the EuroShop!

Exchange with experts

Looking at innovations is good, exchanging ideas is better. The stages at EuroShop offer space for this. The name has changed – they were called forums in the past – but the concept stays the same: you have the opportunity to talk to international experts and listen to exciting technical presentations. Would you like to know what the latest developments in the field of self-scanning are? Then you should visit the Retail Technology Stage in Hall 6. If you are interested in topics in the field of shopper marketing, the Retail Marketing Stage in Hall 1 is the right place for you. Here you will find an overview of all stages and presentations.

My insider tip: My colleague Thomas Gruschwitz also shares his expertise and presents innovative disposal solutions. You will meet him on 19 February at 13:30 pm on the Retail Marketing Stage.

The best innovation of the year

It will also be exciting on 17 February at 4 pm on the Expo + Event Stage in Hall 4 E40. This is where the IFES Development + Innovation Award (IDIA) will be presented. This award honours products or projects and services that not only have convincing future potential, but are also cost-effective and sustainable. And this is exactly what innovation means. They not only have to be new, but also economically viable and bring long-term benefits. The award is therefore an absolute must see!

Meeting the big players of tomorrow today

The special areas at EuroShop are also a must-see. At the Retail Technology & Marketing start-up hub in Hall 3, you can meet start-ups whose ideas are ready to revolutionise the retail sector. They are young, dynamic and innovative – the perfect environment for new, creative ideas. And who knows, maybe you’ll meet a start-up today that will be very successful tomorrow. So this is a unique opportunity.

The Innovation Hub in Hall 4 E03 also promises some visions of the future. Here, you will also experience things from areas such as virtual and augmented reality. By the way, I mean experience literally. Because you don’t just look at the solutions, you try them out.

Off to EuroShop!

You see, a visit to EuroShop is absolutely profitable. A unique trade fair experience is guaranteed. We would also be very happy to meet you at EuroShop! Just visit the Strautmann stand in hall 15 at stand E56. I am looking forward to you and an exciting exchange.

Strautmann Umwelttechnik GmbH

EuroShop 2020
EuroShop 2020

Everyday hero “Cardboard box”​: What you need to know about the packaging product

Moving, shopping, storage: cartons are practical, functional, multifunctional and essential in everyday life. In almost every industry they are used as packaging material for all kinds of products. The “Association of Paper Factories” concluded that in 2017, 22.7 million tons of paper, cardboard, and paperboard were produced in Germany alone. Worldwide, the numbers for the demand for paper and cardboard are significantly higher. According to the global study “World Paper Markets up to 2030” by “Pyöry Management Consulting”, the demand should even increase to a total of 482 million tons until 2030. But where do cartons come from? What materials are they made of? And what happens to them when they are no longer in use? I would like to answer all these questions in this article.

The EU focuses on recycling

Did you know that both paper and cardboard of all types are mainly made of cellulose fibers? Cellulose is a substance formed by plants and the main component of plant cell walls. 90% of the wood that the European Union needs to produce cardboard now comes from the EU itself. According to the “Confederation of European Paper Industries” (CEPI) even up to 60% comes from sustainably managed forests. For the production of paper and cardboard, the industry not only uses fresh fibers from trees but also, and above all, uses recovered fibers from recycled paper products. Besides the organization reports that the whole European Union already uses 86% renewable raw materials for the production of cardboard. In detail, this means that 46% consists of recycled paper products and only 40% of fresh groundwood pulp is used. The other 14% is made up of non-fiber materials such as calcium carbonate.

769,000 tons of packaging material

At the same time, the amount of work it takes to produce this everyday object should not be underestimated: Cartons usually consist of at least three layers. After the cellulose has been broken down into its fibers, the first step is to grind it into an aqueous pulp. This is also done similarily with waste paper, which is also shredded after cleaning. The mixture of water, cell fibers and additives is decolorized and then runs over and over again through a screen in a board machine, where, over time, the first paper webs are finally produced. These are couched, which means that the webs are pressed together without adhesive to create the typical cardboard layers. 

After several drying processes, lime, fillers and binders are added before the webs are finally smoothed. In the final step, they are cut up and are ready for a variety of applications and uses, such as in industry and trade – and especially here the consumption is enormous: According to the “Saarbrücker Zeitung”, based on government information, around 769,000 tons of packaging material was used in Germany in 2015. For comparison: just ten years ago, the total amount was only 120,000 tons. One of the reasons for the increase is online trading, which is still booming.

After use, cartons end up in waste paper containers – and then?

Did you know that 83% of paper and cardboard packaging in Europe is already recycled? This number was published by the Federal Statistical Office of the European Union (ESTAT) in 2015. 10% ends up in landfills, while 7% is collected for other forms of disposal, such as incineration.

The packaging that is recycled is first collected in the waste paper containers. These are sorted by different types of paper in paper mills and pressed into bales. In the next step, they are dissolved with water in the so-called pulper and defibered. The resulting fiber pulp is pulled over sieves, cleaned and thickened. This removes the printer’s ink and other foreign matter from the waste paper. After other fibers, fillers and auxiliary materials are added, the pulp is taken to the production process to produce newspapers, envelopes and paper rolls. Then the cycle starts all over again. This cycle is much more environment-friendly than the production of paper. Because it requires a lot of wood, energy and water. There is also the risk of chemicals getting into the water. The use of waste paper can greatly reduce environmental pollution.

Dispose of waste paper efficiently now!

As you can see, waste paper is a real an everyday hero and protects not only your goods but also the environment. But only if it is also correctly recycled. You can help to achieve this with a baler in your warehouse. Because that way the loose cardboard packaging is already pressed into bales at your warehouse. This makes it easier and more space-saving to remove. Fewer truck journeys are required and the risk of loose packaging ending up in the environment and not being recycled is reduced.

Strautmann Umwelttechnik GmbH

Food packaging: Protective or harmful?

Whether yoghurt, soups or drinks – they are all sold packaged in the supermarket. Overall, almost 90 percent of food products are sold in packaging. This adds up to a great amount: in 2018, more than 1.13 trillion packages were used for food and drinks in the EU.

Packaging should keep our food fresh by protecting it from external influences such as light and oxygen. But at the same time, the material from which they are made is very often harmful to the environment. And packaging causes an enormous amount of waste. So shouldn’t it be abolished completely? This topic is currently the subject of a hot debate. I will take a closer look at both positions.

The environmental sin of plastic

Plastic is one of the most important packaging materials. This is written in the plastic atlas of the Federation for Environment and Nature Protection in Germany. But plastic is extremely harmful to the environment and to ourselves because plastic packaging contains chemical substances which can transfer themselves into our food. If these get into the human body, health damage is to be feared. As a result there is a greater risk of ingesting those chemical substances by consuming food wrapped in plastic packaging.

Plastic waste also finds its way into the oceans, but can’t be completely decomposed there. Marine animals and birds eat small plastic parts because they often think it is food. The waste remains decomposed in their stomach which causes them to starve to death. At the same time, there is a risk that the plastic particles will end up back on the our plates through the food chain. Furthermore the animals can get caught in larger plastic parts – they hurt themselves or die in pain. In the course of a year around 10 million tons of plastic end up in the sea.

It has been recognised that nature protection must be taken seriously and the use of plastic needs to be reduced. So far not only people but also companies start to be more aware of these harmful changes they cause to the environment by overusing plastic – in the retail sector too. Paper bags instead of plastic bags are hanging in vegetable departments as well as at the checkout. The grapes are now available in paper bags rather than plastic bags. Since 2015, Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd have already used around 40,000 tonnes less packaging material, the discounters report. Non-packaging supermarkets are the trend. So something is happening and that is good for the environment. But is it enough to dispense packaging to help the environment?

Remedies for food waste

On the one hand there are tons of saved packaging material. But on the other hand a large amount of food ends up in the bin. According to current statistics from the Federal Environment Agency, food waste sums up to 1,85 million tons, or in other words: one third of all processed food products. This puts a heavy burden on the environment. Because water, energy and agricultural land are wasted unnecessarily if tons of food is thrown away. In addition, more than 900 million people in the world are starving while elsewhere enjoyable food is thrown away.

If food was sold unpackaged, this problem could be worse. Oxygen, moisture, light, ripening gases – packaging can keep these things away from fruit and vegetables. Therefore it is much longer enjoyable. A packaged cucumber for example lasts three days longer than an unpackaged one. One percent more packaging means ten percent less food waste, says Winfried Batzke, Managing Director of the German Packaging Institute.

So packaging is still profitable, the packaging advocates say. In their opinion, the damage should actually be bigger when food goes bad than when it is packaged. Ninety percent of the ecological damage was caused by the product and only ten percent by the packaging.

What is the solution?

A lot of plastic waste on the one hand and food waste on the other: It’s a stalemate. Will it still be good for the environment if plastic is reduced but tons of food is thrown away? Is it necessary to find an alternative to plastic? What are the benefits of other packaging alternatives, such as the coating process, which I have already presented to you in another article? Should we only buy unpackaged food?

Questions to which there is currently no explicit answer. But it is clear that something has to change. What is your opinion on this topic? How can we do better to protect our planet? Feel free to write your opinion in the comments. I would be happy if we discussed this important topic.

Strautmann Umwelttechnik GmbH

The new power in the warehouse for more efficient disposal

The disposal of outer packaging and cardboard packaging is one of the tasks in the food retail trade, to which little attention is paid. Even when potential savings are obvious, many companies have difficulties in tackling the issue. Because the tearing and pressing of the waste take place far away from the customer traffic, it is rather seen as annoying. Priority is given to the core business.

While many sales processes have therefore already been optimized for efficiency, disposal often remains an invisible time eater, causing unnoticed high personnel costs.
The Hierber’s Frische Center in Grenzach also felt the effects of this. Around 230 tons of cardboard packaging are produced in the store each year. Up to now, the employees have disposed of the packaging in an ordinary press container. “That was an absolute time-eater and physically demanding for the employees“, reported store manager Roland Hönicke. “Coupled with the high costs of travelling to and from the press container, it was very costly for us”. In addition, the filling volume of the press container could only be estimated by knocking. The result was a collection of not completely filled containers. “This cost us a lot of extra money, since the arrival and departure was not profitable for the disposal company,” Hönicke recalled. So the Hieber’s Frische Center lost money and time unnecessarily.

At the same time, more modern and more efficient disposal solutions have long been available. “When developing our baler, we have oriented ourselves very specifically to the needs of retailers”, says Günter Komesker, managing director of Strautmann Umwelttechnik. And that is above all the relief of personnel and personnel capacities. Because the AutoLoadBaler no longer needs to be filled manually. It is an expert in warehouse logistics, ensures order and cleanliness and saves the employees in the food retail trade stress and back pain.
Automation can save 10 working hours per tonne of cardboard packaging per year and 400 moments of stress per day. This is proven by a study which Strautmann Umwelttechnik carried out in cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences in Osnabrück.

Roland Hönicke has convinced himself of this. For four weeks he tested the AutoLoadBaler like a new employee in his store and then asked his colleagues for their opinion. 75 percent of them said that they no longer wanted to work without the ALB. “For us this was a clear result. In the end, the employees are the ones who have to cope with the system. And the survey clearly showed that the AutoLoadBaler makes work easier for our market,” explained Hönicke. Now the ALB in Grenzach is permanently in use. “We had drama to the power of ten and are now all happy to have the AutoLoadBaler.”

Now the ALB wants to apply to other retailers as an active supporter in waste disposal logistics. To this end, the ALB will have numerous job interviews at EuroShop 2020 from 16 to 20 February in Düsseldorf. He will not only let his references speak for himself, but will also have his own voice – as a chatbot. “We are looking forward to a completely new trade fair experience with our innovation expert ALB”, says Jörg Becker, sales manager at Strautmann Umwelttechnik.

Meet us at the EuroShop in Hall 3 Stand E56!

Strautmann Umwelttechnik GmbH

Hieber's Frische Center, Grenzach, Germany
Hieber's Frische Center, Grenzach, Germany
Comfortable filling of collection cart
Comfortable filling of collection cart
Roland Hönicke, Market manager, Hieber's Frische Center, Grenzach, Germany
Roland Hönicke, Market manager, Hieber's Frische Center, Grenzach, Germany

How food retailers sell today – Three trends at a glance

Online business has been booming for years. Amazon and Co. have conquered the market. The stationary trade suffers from the success of the competition and is in danger of becoming a victim of the digital change. Food can now also be bought at Amazon. At first, food retailers did not see any danger in this, because buying food online – that seemed strange to Germans for a long time.

But the trend is changing: a study commissioned by the Federal Association of the Digital Economy has found that 33 percent of Germans have already bought food online and could imagine doing this again. The advantages of online ordering are time independence for shopping, no carrying of the purchases and time savings.

It seems that the online giants are also becoming a problem for the food retail industry. But they will not give up without a fight. There are a number of trends with which the markets want to retain customers and win new ones. I will present three of the current trends.

Laundry service in the supermarket

Shopping and taking laundry to the cleaners – two everyday to-dos that everyone knows. Especially after a long day at work, the walking distances to the various shops can be a nuisance. And stressful at the same time, when the cleaning service closes again at 6 or 7 pm.

So why not combine food shopping with a trip to the textile laundry to save walking distances? This was the idea of the Rewe Group and in July 2019 it entered into a cooperation with the Cologne start-up “Wasch Mal“. Customers were able to book a laundry service online or via app in three test stores. They then dropped off their dirty laundry at the cash desk or at specially set up stations at Rewe stores. There they could later pick up freshly washed and ironed clothes again.

The concept seemed to work: According to Waschmal managing director Stefan Brüssemaker, 23 stores were added between October and December 2019. And now 30 more stores will follow. According to Brüssemaker, the biggest advantages are that detours are eliminated and that customers benefit from the long opening hours of the stores. Besides Rewe, the drugstore operator dm also offers a laundry service. It cooperates with the Henkel subsidiary Persil Service.

Customer as cashier 

Long queues at the cash desk annoy the customers. They lose a lot of time by waiting. In addition, they have to move the goods from their shopping cart to the conveyor belt and back again. At the Globus supermarket chain this has been over for some time now. By the end of 2018, the company has already equipped 30 stores with a new payment system: Scan & Go.

In the entrance area, Globus customers hold their customer cards under a reader and then they can take a scanner from a partition wall. The scanner is attached to the shopping cart by a holder. Now the customer scans each item he takes from the shelf before placing it in the shopping cart. At the end, payment is made at a checkout station. The purchases do not have to be unpacked again at a cash desk.

At the end of 2018, David Massing, Project Manager Scan & Go at Globus, told the Handelsblatt: “We already have over 165,000 customers who have registered and are using it”. Sales have increased by 30 percent in the markets where Scan & Go is used.

Amazon also relies on a system without cash desks. In the United States, the first cashless supermarkets Amazon Go opened several years ago. In Germany, retailers like Real are experimenting with self-scanning. However, customers have to scan every single piece at the cash desk themselves and take it out of the shopping cart again. Is this still a way to save time? Perhaps the fact that these self-service checkouts have still not really made their way into the market answers this question.


The Dutch supermarket chain Jumbo is pursuing a completely opposite strategy. Recently, it introduced a talk-cash-desk at its store in Vlijmen, where employees take extra time to talk to their customers.

The background of this idea is less beautiful: More and more people, especially seniors, live alone and have only a few with who they can talk. A visit to the supermarket now becomes the solution to loneliness. “We want shopping to be fun,” Dick de Fjiter, branch manager of Jumbo Vlijmen, told the Gerneral Anzeiger Bonn. That means: Instead of hectic and stress, relaxed shopping with conversations.

In addition, the supermarket chain is cooperating with a foundation and has introduced a coffee meeting. Here, volunteers meet with older people for discussions. They also help the seniors with shopping or household chores.

The background to this trend: the supermarket is becoming a feel-good atmosphere. A place where people enjoy spending time. For some, shopping is even becoming an experience. And this is something that puts stationary retail ahead of online retail. So it’s no wonder that many supermarkets try to play this ace up their sleeve.

And where does the staff find the time?  

At the same time, however, allowing customers to shop in a relaxed manner is an additional time expense for the staff. Supermarkets must therefore save time elsewhere if they want to spend more capacity on their customers. An often underestimated possibility to save time is warehouse logistics. Many of them dispose of waste at great expense, even though more efficient solutions have long been available on the market. If, for example, you use an automatic baler into which cardboard boxes no longer have to be inserted by hand, you can save hours in the year around 2016. This gives you enough time to implement trends such as the talk-cash-desk in your market.

Strautmann Umwelttechnik GmbH

Edible protective cover keeps fruit and vegetables fresh longer

Almost one third of the food produced in Germany ends up in the garbage. According to a recent WWF study, this is almost 18 million tons. Doing without packaging often means doing without long shelf life and freshness. The coating process is intended to kill two birds with one stone: the innovative technology does without packaging waste and guarantees fresh food a longer shelf life. The Rewe Group was the first food retailer in Germany to introduce this process. It is an edible packaging.

And this is how the invisible coating works: According to information from the Lebensmittelzeitung, fruits are given a thin edible coating that reduces cell respiration and is intended to keep them fresh for longer. This coating consists of a mixture of natural sugar residues, cellulose and vegetable oils and can be applied by spraying or dipping the fruit. According to the British manufacturer AgriCoat Nature Seal, the coating is edible, well tolerated and neutral in taste and smell. The coatings would reduce the spoilage of fresh fruit and make it last twice as long. Since the beginning of November, Rewe has already been testing the naturally packed fruits in sales.

A few weeks ago Edeka followed suit – with a slightly different protective coating. The retailer has coated avocados with a coating of vegetable material from the US company Apeel Sciences. This consists of ingredients that are usually found in the peel, seeds and pulp of various fruits and vegetables, as Edeka writes in a press release. The shell slows down the loss of water and the penetration of oxygen, so that fruit and vegetables can be kept for longer. “Apeel is a natural answer to the question of how fresh fruit and vegetables can be preserved for longer and, on top of that, plastic packaging can be saved”, Markus Mosa, Chairman of the Board of EDEKA AG, makes clear.

The “second skin” for fruit and vegetables should be available in Edeka stores all over Germany in 2020. The Rewe Group has already extended its coating test to Austrian markets. The alternative packaging is picking up speed and will continue to establish itself in supermarkets this year. A process that could revolutionise food retailing – edible packaging for environmental protection and against food waste.

Strautmann Umwelttechnik GmbH

Tesco, ALDI & Co. want to save tons of packaging waste – an overview of the CSR strategies of large retail groups

Whether plastic, cardboard or glass: they are packed to protect food and other goods. In 2017, Germans consumed an average of 226 kg of packaging – and the trend is rising. It is no secret that the production and disposal of packaging costs energy and thus pollutes the environment. While so-called “unpackaged shops” are springing up like mushrooms, especially in large cities, large retail groups such as Rewe, Tesco & Co. reflect on how to handle packaging. Reduction, abandonment and recycling are just a few of the key words. In this article I would like to present the strategies of four major players.

1. Tescos 4R-strategy: Remove, reduce, re-use, recycle

The British retail chain, which operates more than 6,800 stores worldwide, has a four-step strategy.

  1. The removal of all non-recyclable and difficult to recycle materials.
  2. Anything that cannot be removed should be reduced to an absolute minimum.
  3. The discovery of new possibilities for reuse.
  4. Ensure that packaging is recycled as part of a closed loop.

Tesco has already been working on implementing these ambitious goals and now is making its suppliers aware of their responsibilities : By the end of 2019, the Group wants to have eliminated materials from its own-brand products that are difficult to recycle. Over 4,000 tonnes of packaging material are to be removed in 800 product lines. At meetings with over 1,500 suppliers, Tesco presented its vision for the next stage of its packaging agenda. The British company has also informed suppliers that from next year the size and suitability of the packaging will be assessed through category reviews and assortment decisions.

Tesco CEO Damien Lewis also calls on politicans to act: “Without a national infrastructure, industry’s efforts to improve the recyclability of materials used in packaging will be a drop in the ocean”. In January 2018, Tesco called on the government to introduce this infrastructure and even offered assistance. This invitation has been extended and the need for action has never been more urgent,” says Lewis.

2. Carrefours CSR mission: 10,000 tons less packaging by 2025

Carrefour also devotes its Environmental Management Policy to the subject of packaging. Compared with the base year 2016, the Group intends to use 10,000 tons less packaging within 9 years. Carrefour has defined concrete measures to achieve these goals:

  • Optimization of packaging by adjusting shapes, reducing size, weight and colors
  • The use of vegetable-based printing inks
  • The renunciation of secondary packaging
  • The use of renewable and recycled materials
  • Offer packaging solutions to own customers in cooperation with local authorities and suppliers

Each Carrefour country team has the task of carrying out five projects per year in this area. All new developments must meet criteria such as material reduction, optimised filling rates and environmentally friendly printing. For example, reusable plastic trays are to be used for transporting fruit and vegetables.

3. REWE Group: Less packaging waste with strategy

Avoid, Reduce, Improve: These are the catchwords of REWE Group. By the end of 2030, the Group intends to make all its own-brand packaging more environmentally friendly. The group has already initiated 1,200 changes in its REWE and Penny stores, which will save around 7,600 tonnes of plastic per year. 

Wherever possible, REWE Group tries to avoid packaging and plastic. The discontinuation of plastic bags, the abolition of plastic foils for cucumbers, the introduction of reusable nets in the fruit and vegetable department or laser logos for organic fruit and vegetables such as sweet potatoes. What sounds like small steps makes an immense difference. In 2019 alone, the company saved around 80,000 kilograms of plastic by converting its cucumbers.

Where savings cannot be made without substitution, the Group focuses on innovation. In the future, for example, fruit will be packed in grass paper. The recyclable material has a good eco-balance because hardly any chemicals are needed for production and it produces fewer greenhouse gases.

4. ALDI Süd: The #Aldiverpackungsmission – Clever separation and promotion of start-ups

“The most sustainable packaging is packaging that doesn’t exist,” says the ALDI Süd website. In its sustainability strategy, ALDI also relies on the usual three building blocks of avoidance, reuse and recycling. Above all, proper waste separation is an important factor. And ALDI Süd does not just take care of this in its internal waste disposal logistics. Separation instructions on the packaging of private labels, so-called “tips for the bin”, are also intended to help consumers with the correct disposal of packaging material.

The group is calling on everyone to become part of the #Aldiverpackungsmission. Concrete actions and goals of the mission are as follows:

  • 30 percent less use of materials for private label packaging by 2025 (compared to 2015)
  • Recyclable packaging for private labels until 2022
  • More unpacked fruit and vegetables
  • Correct waste separation: “Tips for the bin” on private labels
  • Sustainable paper stock instead of plastic stock for cotton swabs

In relation to innovation, ALDI Süd does not wait, but simply gets it rolling itself. With a start-up support programme, the Group supports tech founders and helps them to develop business models that reduce packaging waste. A shopping backpack, a capless shampoo bottle and edible straws are the products that have made it into the promotional program. And all three products will be available at ALDI Süd branches in the future. “For us, the cooperation with the start-ups is so successful that we will soon be entering the second round and supporting new start-ups with their innovations,” says the discounter’s homepage.

Strautmann Umwelttechnik GmbH

How to create unforgettable shopping experiences for your customers

When supermarket customers are greeted with sweet pineapple or the scent of freshly fried potato pancakes, there is often a clever concept behind it. In the competition against convenient online retailing, retailers appeal to all their cutomers’ senses to make shopping an experience. The supermarket should become a place where customers enjoy to spend their time.

It is not primarily the type of marketing that is important, but the quality of the product range. “More than 40 million customers benefit every day from an enormous product selection, format variety and price stability,” says Stefan Genth, Managing Director of the Handelsverband Deutschland (HDE), underlining the food retail trade in Germany as an important interface to the consumer. And the assortment plays a particularly important role for the customer in the choice of supermarket or discounter.

Nearly 85 percent of Germans go to grocery stores where all their shopping can be done at once. “If a store doesn’t offer enough choice, I don’t shop there,” say over 42 percent of Germans. This is the conclusion of the HDE’s 2018 Food Trade Report. The trend is clearly towards one-stop shopping. Freely based on the real slogan “Once there, everything in”. This means that supermarkets and discounters have to offer a broad range of products. In order to buy organic products, the customer does not want to have to go to a health food store. In order to get meat from the region and sustainable production with a clear conscience, the customer does not want to go to the local butcher. In order to get the vegetables from the farmer next door, the farmer does not want to have to make his way additionally. At best, the market has all these products at its disposal and markets them accordingly.

The customer is king

To guarantee this, the retail trade must focus on what is important: the customer. The well-known proverb “The customer is king” is no coincidence. What does the customer expect? What products does he buy? What product characteristics does he pay attention to? How important are organic quality and sustainability to them? What marketing measures do they take on? Does he buy the pineapple because he could try it? Does he take the potato pancakes with him because his appetite has been stimulated? Only those who know their customers’ needs can adjust their assortment to them and create an experience around them. This costs a lot of time and personnel.

Optimal planning of personnel deployment

But what can you do if you don’t have time to meet your customers’ expectations? All you have to do is see where you can save time. For example, in the disposal process. Many managers in retail don’t pay much attention to this topic. While your employees laboriously throw cardboard boxes into small shopping carts in order to manually fill a baler in the next step, others simply push a large, filled collection truck under the baler – the rest goes by itself. As already mentioned in the Black-Friday article, this not only saves 500 working hours per year, but also an entire work step. You have more time for your assortment, your customers and your marketing.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems also save time. These systems support all business processes in a company. Whether in procurement, sales, human resources, accounting or warehouse logistics, all these areas are connected via a common database. Which goods are still in the warehouse? Has replenishment already been ordered? What marketing activities are arriving at other locations? All employees can quickly access the information. Based on this, workflows can be optimized and the assortment can be aligned with the customer on the basis of documented empirical values. As an ERP system, godesys is ideal for the food retail trade due to its customer orientation. This year, the system was awarded ERP System of the Year by the Center For Enterprise Research of the University of Potsdam.

While the automatic baling press takes care of the cardboard boxes in the warehouse and an ERP system keeps an eye on your processes, think about the next trial campaign in your business.

Strautmann Umwelttechnik GmbH

24 things you could do if your disposal process was efficient

Buying presents, attending Christmas parties, preparing annual balance sheets – the Christmas season is for many the most stressful in the whole year. While to-do lists become longer and longer and task mountains pile up, time flies by. Saving time is rare. Stress is virtually pre-programmed.

Of course, this also applies to the employees in food retailing, who have to struggle with the higher number of customers before the Christmas days (read also the article about Black Friday). What happens behind the scenes in the warehouse at the same time? This is something nobody thinks about. Of course, customers have priority. For example, little attention is paid to the disposal of cardboard packaging and outer packaging. But that’s a mistake, because while many sales processes have already been optimized, disposal often remains a big time waster, which also causes high personnel costs. Many people are not even aware of this.

That’s why it is so important to me to show you what you could do if your disposal process were efficient, especially during the stressful Christmas season. There are solutions, but you may not know them yet. For example, an automated baler can save up to 100 working hours per ton of waste per year. This is possible because manual filling is no longer necessary and the baler fills itself automatically.

I will show you in the next 24 days what you could do in the time saved if you used this automated baling press. Look forward to an “Advent calendar” that does not contain chocolate, but contains 24 little treats of a very precious good during the Christmas season: time.

Strautmann Umwelttechnik GmbH