Disposal going well

Migros runs the largest recovery system of any Swiss retailer, and tried out more methods of disposal in 2009.

Migros aims to reduce or avoid waste. For instance in logistics, where it makes ecological sense, reusable boxes take the place of cardboard packaging. Around seven million plastic containers are in circulation. Despite the many measures taken to reduce rubbish, every year over 210'000 tonnes of waste are produced in the Cooperatives and in operations. More than two thirds of this can be recycled.

Migros is particularly keen to avoid destroying food. The Cooperatives work with charities, giving them food which is approaching its expiry date. Stores also cut the price of food before the expiry date. Even so, some is always left over. However, much of this can be used in fermentation plants – along with by-products from the food industry – to produce electricity, heat, bio-fuel and compost.

Disposal that is ecological and economic

Items returned by customers are nearly all recycled. Migros runs its own recovery system for empty containers and used products. In 2009 Migros took back around 13,000 tonnes of customer waste.

The in-store recovery system mainly covers PET drinks bottles, PE milk product bottles, batteries, electrical and electronic equipment and low-energy bulbs. Specialist markets stocking the relevant ranges accept numerous other products, such as fluorescent tubes and lights, electrical DIY, garden and hobby equipment and paint and varnish.

Last year Migros customers brought back 220 million PET bottles – more than 90% of all bottles sold! In-house beverages producer Aproz Sources Minérales SA used more than 1,800 tonnes of recycled PET to produce new bottles, a rise of 20 per cent from 2008. Aproz covers more than 34 per cent of its PET requirements from recycling.

Migros launched two pilot projects in 2009 to recover even more materials. Migros Cooperative Eastern Switzerland successfully trialled CD recycling. And Migros Cooperative Lucerne now offers customers the option to dispose of additional empty PE containers such as coloured shower gel, cleaning material and cosmetics bottles, as well as white milk bottles. Consumers are delighted.

Migros is not just ecological in its disposal methods, it is also economically efficient in the way it processes increasing amounts of waste through its internal disposal system. Collected items and waste have fetched steadily higher prices in recent years. Waste reprocessing is a very dynamic area that is increasingly working on market principles, and hence becoming volatile. In 2008 income from secondary raw materials fell sharply in some cases owing to the economic crisis, but last year prices slowly rose again.

Getting rid of rubbish on the streets

Drink and take-away containers, newspapers and advertising flyers – rubbish that is abandoned or thrown away is an increasing problem in towns and cities. The amount of waste collected from public spaces has doubled in the last ten years. Migros is working with Swiss retail stakeholder group IG DHS and environmental group IGSU to support the public authorities in combating litter.

In 2009 Migros again took part in the round table on littering arranged by the Federal Office for the Environment. Migros, with other companies, lobbied for retailers not to be burdened with additional charges. It also emphasised that it preferred to tackle littering by voluntary measures, as has been the case in Basel since 2008, for example. Migros further supported the littering coordination platform in the Canton of Thurgau last year. Communities here can benefit from Migros’ expertise and approach the retailer directly for specific cooperation if required