Waste & Recycling

Migros is serious about avoiding and recycling waste and optimising its packaging in an ecological sense. In 2014, the company expanded its recycling system, made a commitment to optimised packaging and took measures to reduce food waste.

Migros operates an elaborate recycling system for operating waste and customer returns. Of the approximately 238'000 tonnes of operating waste and customer returns of Migros cooperatives and industries each year, 75% are recycled. Migros strives to maintain its high level of resource protection and safeguard its position as the recycling champion of the Swiss retail sector. This also applies to food: Migros makes every effort to avoid having to destroy food. Products approaching their sell-by date are sold to customers and staff at reduced prices or donated to aid organisations. In addition, Migros systematically reduces its packaging volume, uses recycled material or replaces its packaging with more environmentally friendly material.

Elaborate return system

2014 Migros was able to increase the amount of customer returns even more: 15'000 tons of disused packages and products was collected and recycled.

For its new return system for plastic bottles, Migros won the 2014 Swiss Recycling Award, presented by Swiss Recycling, the umbrella organisation for recycling organisations .

Customer returns play an important role in recycling. PET drinks bottles make up the majority of items. In 2014, customers returned around 300 million PET bottles to the branches, corresponding to (9'200 tonnes. The granules from the bottles are used in new bottles for Aproz Sources Minérales SA, as well as in the production of rucksacks, outdoor clothing and plastic foil.

Migros' return system is the largest in Swiss retail.

At the start of 2014, Migros became the first retailer to recover and recycle household plastic bottles from all branches. The acquired raw materials are used to produce plastic pipes for the construction industry, among other things. In the reporting year, Migros took back over 1'900 tonnes of plastic bottles, 60% more than in the previous year. In the longer term, it is expecting to recover a total of 3'000 tonnes per year.

Customers can also return CDs and DVDs, batteries, water-filter cartridges, as well as LED and energy-saving bulbs to any Migros branch. The recycled material from the CDs and DVDs is used in motorcycle helmets, for example. Waste generated in the Migros branches and logistics centres, such as cardboard, paper, plastic foil and metal, is also collected and recycled.

In 2014, Migros used various communication measures to explain its new recycling commitment to customers and offered a practical recycling system for the home. It also held training sessions to raise awareness of recycling among employees in the operating centres. In addition, there is now a best-practice waste disposal guide for branch staff.

Figures Cooperative Retailing & Industry



Volume of waste 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Change compared to previous year
Waste, total (in 1000 tonnes) 215.9 223.3 225.4 229.3 238.4 4.0%
Industry 101.0 104.6 104.0 107.6 112.5 4.6%
Branches, logistics enterprises and FMC 1 114.9 118.7 121.4 121.7 125.9 3.5%
Waste, specific
(in kg/CHF 1000 sales)
13.2 14.0 14.1 13.9 14.2 2.0%

1 Operating centres, distribution centres and FMC


Composition of waste

Composition of waste
(in tonnes)
Absolute Percentage
Organic waste 1 78'930 33.1%
Special waste and waste requiring inspection 7'326 3.1%
Paper, cardboard 49'100 20.6%
Metal, glass 4'444 1.9%
Rubbish 38'999 16.4%
Wood, bulky goods, construction waste, etc. 7'843 3.3%
Animal by-products 36'080 15.1%
Plastic 15'718 6.6%
Total 238'440 100.0%

1 Sewage sludge, electronic scrap and batteries, other special waste and waste requiring inspection


Waste recycling rate

Recycling rate
(in %) 1
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Change compared to previous year
Recycling rate 70.9% 71.3% 71.8% 73.3% 75.0% 2.2%

1 Materials recycling, animal feed, fermentation, composting, without thermal treatment (incineration)


Customer returns by type

Customer returns by type
(in 1000 tonnes)
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Change compared to previous year
PET drinks bottles 8.8 8.8 8.9 9.4 9.3 -0.6%
other plastic bottles 1.0 1.2 1.1 1.2 2.0 58.5%
Electronic scrap 2.9 3.1 3.1 2.9 2.8 -3.7%
Batteries 0.3 0.4 0.3 0.3 0.4 16.4%
Various 0.0 0.0 0.5 0.4 0.5 20.3%
Total 13.0 13.4 13.9 14.3 15.0 4.9%


Waste disposal process

Disposal processes waste
(in 1000 tonnes)
Absolute Percentage
Total 238 100%
Materials recycling 76.6 32%
Animal feed 73.1 31%
KVA, in-house incineration, cement plant 57.5 24%
Fermentation 23.1 10%
Composting 6.0 3%
Waste disposal site 2.2 1%

Food waste: relevant measures

A third of all food produced worldwide is thrown away. Migros therefore strives to keep waste as low as possible.

With success: 98.6% of food in its branches, restaurants and take-aways is sold as food, offered at a reduced price or donated.

Migros takes various measures to keep food waste to a minimum: on the one hand, it focuses on optimum volume planning in the branches. On the other hand, efficient logistics ensure that products reach the supermarkets earlier and therefore last longer. In addition, Migros continuously checks whether the products' sell-by dates can be extended, and changes the date declarations on certain products from “use by“ to “best before“. It thereby aims to show its customers that the products, if stored properly, can also be consumed without problems after the specified date.

Products approaching their sell-by date are offered to customers and staff at reduced prices, and food that can no longer be sold is donated to aid organisations such as Tischlein deck dich and Schweizer Tafel. In 2014, staff training sessions on the subject of food waste were held in all Cooperatives.

The measures paid off: just 1.4% of the food offered in Migros stores, restaurants and take-aways was not sold as food or was donated. 1.3% was used as animal feed, compost or in fermentation. Only 0.1% was incinerated as waste. Migros is aiming to reduce these figures even further in the future.

Fighting food waste together

As part of the foodbridge project, Migros has been supporting the organisations Tischlein deck dich and Schweizer Tafel with food donations since 2013 as well as with financial contributions since 2014. The food donations for these two charitable institutions were increased by 19% in comparison to 2013. Food donation partnerships are also maintained with other organisations, including regional ones, such as Caritas, Partage and local welfare institutions.

United Against Waste is a food industry association that makes an active commitment to reducing food waste. The Migros company Saviva is a founding member and, together with its partners, is aiming to cut food waste by 50% between 2012 and 2020. In 2014, the association focused on the hospitality and baking industries, for which food waste surveys were conducted with test plants. The association now offers consulting and training for both sectors. Through PR work and communication measures, United Against Waste has raised awareness in the industry even further and increased its membership base to 40 members.

Ecologically optimised packaging

Optimising packaging in the interest of environmental protection not only helps to preserve resources but, often, also reduces costs. In recent years, Migros has systematically reduced its packaging volume, used more recycled material or replaced its packaging with more environmentally friendly material.

The aim is to optimise more than 6000 tonnes of packaging material in an ecological sense by the end of 2020.

The aim is to optimise more than 6000 tonnes of packaging material in an ecological sense by the end of 2020. This mainly affects own brands, but there is also an increasing focus on supplier packaging. In line with the motto “prevent – reduce – recycle“, Migros applies a broad range of solutions: where possible, it uses less packaging material, uses recycled materials or packs its products differently, such as with paper from sustainable sources (FSC paper).

In the reporting year, the packaging of different own brands was optimised in an ecological sense. By changing the shape of the PET bottle for Aproz mineral water, 10% less material is needed per bottle, which reduces the annual PET requirement by 71 tonnes. Since 2014, organic vinegar bottles have been made from PET instead of glass. (Annual saving: 200 tonnes of packaging material). The new packaging for uncooked organic cold meats is made from laminated FSC cardboard and uses 60% less plastic. This solution won Migros the Swiss Packaging Award and the international WorldStar Packaging Award in 2014.

Migros works closely with the packaging developers of M-Industry to make its packaging as environmentally friendly as possible. To assess the environmental impact of the packaging, Migros conducts life cycle assessments, which cover all phases (from the acquisition of raw materials through to disposal) and investigate the burden on the environment, such as through CO2 emissions or soil acidification.

Further information

Operating waste

Just 1.4% of the food offered in Migros stores, restaurants and take-aways was not sold as food or was donated. 1.3% of this recycled, for example as biomass to generate energy. Since 2013, Migros has been operating a plant for industrial waste in Zurich to separate impurities from biomass and prepare it for generating green power.

Commitment against littering

Preventing littering is an important social issue for Migros. In 2014, it supported an online experiment on littering in Switzerland in order to find out more about the reasons behind it. Together with the authorities and other companies, Migros Basel conducted the “Drecksack“ campaign for the correct disposal of take-away litter.

Reusable containers in the area of transportation

Migros always tries to use robust plastic containers in place of cardboard boxes to transport its goods. These last for more than ten years and can be used for a vast number of deliveries. Migros is aiming to save 75'000 tonnes of cardboard per year by transporting goods in returnable containers.

Commitment to a green economy

In 2014, Migros and the Swiss retail stakeholder group IG DHS declared their support for a revision of the environmental legislation, which focuses in particular on more voluntary measures for a green economy, careful use of resources, and the circular economy. 

Waste & Recycling (pdf, 48.05 KB)