Waste & Recycling

Avoiding waste, recycling raw materials, making packaging as environmentally friendly as possible: in 2015, Migros made further progress with recycling plastic household bottles, increased customer awareness and improved its packaging.

Migros operates a comprehensive recycling system for waste. Out of the approximately 242'000t of operating waste and customer returns each year in the Migros Cooperatives and M-Industry, about 77% is recycled. The aim is to conserve resources and increase the recycling rate, such as by recycling plastic bottles made of polyethylene (PE).

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 and uses environmentally friendly material in its packaging (e.g. recycled material).

Comprehensive recycling system

Migros is continuously expanding its collection system and raising awareness among staff and customers on how to collect the recycled material correctly.

PET and plastic bottles

In 2015 customers returned close to 16'000t of recyclable material to the stores, which was collected and recycled by Migros. PET drinks bottles account for the largest proportion of customer recycling. Customers returned around 300 million PET drinks bottles to the branches, which corresponds to 9'495t. According to PET Recycling Switzerland, Migros therefore collected more PET drinks bottles than any other Swiss retailer and is on course to meet its Generation M promise. The granules from the recycled bottles are used in new drinks bottles by Aproz Sources Minérales SA and Bischofszell Nahrungsmittel AG among other things.

In 2015, Migros also recovered 2'484t of household plastic bottles, 26% more than in the previous year. Migros is expecting the volume to increase to 3'000t in the longer term. The recycled plastic bottles are used to produce plastic pipes for the construction industry, for example.


Customer returns by type

Customer returns by type
in 1'000 tonnes
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Change from previous year
PET drinks bottles 8.8 8.9 9.4 9.3 9.6 2.8%
other plastic bottles 1.2 1.1 1.2 2.0 2.5 26.3%
Electronic scrap 3.1 3.1 2.9 2.8 3.0 6.3%
Batteries 0.4 0.3 0.3 0.4 0.4 1.0%
Various 0.0 0.5 0.4 0.5 0.6 7.5%
Total 13.4 13.9 14.3 15.0 16.0 6.7%

Awareness raised among customers

In 2015, Migros supported various campaigns to further encourage correct recycling of household PET and plastic bottles among the public. The quality of the collected items is just as important as the quantity. Plastic bottles consisting mostly of polyethylene (PE) may not be mixed with drinks bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), as recycled PET material is subject to strict food regulations when used to make new bottles.

In some larger Migros shopping centres, an exhibition by the Practical Environmental Protection Switzerland Foundation (PUSCH) raised awareness of resource use during consumption. At the Migros-sponsored "Packaging and Recycling" game station, consumers were given important tips on how to separate their waste correctly. The initiative has been a success and the quality of returned PET and plastic bottles is now even higher than in the previous year.

"As a recycling pioneer, Migros has been supporting PET Recycling Switzerland for 25 years. Together we have closed the PET loop."

Jean-Claude Würmli, CEO PET Recycling Switzerland

Help with the correct recycling of PET and plastic bottles is now provided in the form of infographics, as well as stickers on the recycling collection points that show which products can be deposited. For children, Migros launched a Lilibiggs film about correct recycling.

This year, Migros is providing its customers with information about correct recycling, in the form of a short film at the recycling points of large branches. This will ensure that the quality of returns remains high. It is also planning to release a film for employees, with the aim of teaching them how to separate the collected items correctly in the branches.

Processing and recycling of collected items

PET Recycling Switzerland celebrated its 25th anniversary in the reporting year. As a founding member, Migros plays a direct part in the success of the organisation. Switzerland is one of the few countries in the world that has managed to close the PET loop. The long-term goal is to apply the successful model to the recycling of PE bottles. To close the materials loop, the collected items must be sorted by plastic type and colour. Migros is assessing further measures in this area.

Key Figures Cooperative Retailing and Industry


Volume of waste in tonnes

Volume of waste 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Change from previous year
Waste, total (in 1'000 tonnes) 219.1 223.8 227.8 239.1 242.2 1.3%
Industry 100.4 102.5 105.9 112.8 112.7 0.0%
Branches, logistics enterprises and FMC 1 118.7 121.4 121.8 126.3 129.4 2.5%
Waste, specific (in kg/CHF 1'000 sales) 2 13.7 14.0 13.8 14.2 14.4 1.2%

1 Operating centres (collect branch waste)+distribution centres+FMC

2 Income from Migros Cooperative Retailing and Industry (Migros Cooperatives excl. tegut..., FMC, industrial and logistics companies)


Composition of waste in tonnes

Composition of waste
in tonnes
Absolute Percentage
Organic waste 80'523 33%
Paper, cardboard 50'797 21%
Animal by-products 36'425 15%
Rubbish 37'817 16%
Plastic 16'681 7%
Wood, bulky goods, construction waste, etc. 8'660 4%
Metal, glass 3'888 2%
Special waste and waste requiring inspection 1 7'379 3%
Total 242'169 100%

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


Waste recycling rate in %

Waste recycling rate
in % 1
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Change from previous year
Recycling rate 71.4 72.9 74.5 75.8 77.2 1.9%

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


Waste disposal processes in tonnes

Waste disposal process
in 1'000 tonnes
Absolute Percentage
Materials recycling 82 34%
Animal feed 75 31%
KVA, in-house incineration, cement plant 54 22%
Fermentation 24 10%
Composting 5.4 2%
Waste disposal site 1.7 1%
Total 242 100%


The active improvement of packaging helps to preserve natural resources. In line with the motto "prevent – reduce – recycle", Migros is constantly striving to systematically reduce the volume of packaging, use more recycled material and optimise the recycling of packaging, such as by making it possible to separate the different parts of a yoghurt container into cardboard (sleeve), aluminium (lid) and plastic (pot).

Continuous improvement

Migros made environmental improvements in the packaging of various own brands in 2015 as part of the Group's Generation M promise. 

"Mifa produces its bottles in a closed loop with no downcycling. This represents an important step forward in the industry."

Stefan Jüde, Head Judge Swiss Packaging Awards

For example, the spray bottles for M-Plus cleaning products are now made of 100% recycled PET and have a screw top for easy opening and refilling. In the reporting year, this improvement won Mifa AG and Migros the Swiss Packaging Award in the sustainability category as well as the World Star Packaging Award in the household category. In addition, the packaging for organic trout fillets is made primarily of FSC-certified cardboard and therefore uses 62% less plastic. For the packaging of cakes, Migros uses thinner cardboard boxes, which saves 10.3t of cardboard per year. 

Migros has optimised around 1'785t of packaging material since 2013. It has thereby taken a step closer to meeting its objective of optimising more than 6'000t of packaging material by 2020.

Migros has been committed to meeting measurable objectives for optimising its packaging since 2010.

In six take-away branches in Zurich in 2015, Migros tested a reusable bowl as an alternative to disposable dishes. It can be reused up to a hundred times and, in terms of environmental footprint, outperforms a disposable cardboard bowl after just ten uses (including cleaning). This solution will be gradually rolled out across even more take-aways and restaurants in the Zurich region during the course of this year.

In addition to environmental improvements in packaging, Migros also actively promotes innovations. In collaboration with Swiss Recycling, the first discussions about the design and material requirements for plastic bottles were held in 2015. The aim is to create a closed recycling loop for the bottles.

Food waste

A third of all food worldwide is thrown away. Migros strives to keep waste as low as possible. The initiative has been a success: 98.6% of food in the branches, restaurants and take-aways is sold as food, offered at a reduced price or donated.

Cooperation with partners

Products approaching their sell-by date are sold to customers and staff at reduced prices. Unsold food is donated to aid organisations such as Tischlein deck dich and Schweizer Tafel. In 2015, Migros and Denner decided to extend their partnership with Tischlein deck dich and Schweizer Tafel by a further three years. They also work with other charities and welfare organisations. The Migros Cooperative Geneva, for example, has a successful relationship with the Partage institution, while Denner has also maintained a close partnership with the Caritas stores in Switzerland since 2009. In 2015, the company granted the stores a purchasing discount of more than CHF 230'000 and donated more than 312'000 items.

The double date on food in Migros stores also helps to reduce food waste. There are usually several days between the sell-by date and the second date (best before or use by), which gives the customer more time to consume the product. The double date also makes it possible for any items that are not sold before the sell-by date to be donated to aid organisations.

The measures paid off in 2015: just 1.4% of the food offered in Migros stores, restaurants and take-aways was not sold as food or 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.

"Mehr vom Essen" brochure

Much of the food that is sold also ends up in the bin: around 320g a day per household. As part of Generation M, Migros is trying to reduce this figure and help the public to use up any leftovers. The "Mehr vom Essen" brochure offers recipes, tips and tricks for utilising all the food that is bought. 2.5 million copies were included with Migros Magazin and Saisonküche in 2015. The brochure was very popular: all of the approximately 2'000 extra copies were snapped up via the website or Facebook within just three days.

Less food waste thanks to nose-to-tail

In its sustainability strategy, Micarna has set itself the aim of utilising every part of the animal. It thereby hopes to reduce food waste by 15% before 2020, make good use of all usable parts of a product, and recycle 100% of them within the same period. Micarna's priorities during processing are food, feed and energy.

Thanks to the development and promotion of innovative products made from leg and poultry meat, such as meatloaf and charcuterie products, Micarna can now make good use of virtually all the domestic poultry meat. An automatic boning machine for legs was installed in 2015 and will make a significant contribution.

Alongside making optimum use of all parts of the animal, Micarna is also intending to re-stablish forgotten food such as "Gnagi" (knuckle of pork) and innards. This year, the industrial butcher Mérat & Cie AG is planning to launch a nose-to-tail range in order to raise awareness of using every part of the animal among food businesses and customers.

Against food waste in the food services industry

United Against Waste (UAW) is a food services 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 approx. 50%. To achieve this objective, UAW trained fifty Saviva sales consultants in the reporting year. They will act as multipliers to sensitise Saviva customers, including canteens and restaurants, to this issue.

Overall, UAW was able to raise awareness even further in the industry through various training sessions and specialist courses and increase the number of members to more than 70. To measure food waste in food businesses, UAW has installed a tool that they can use to identify reduction potential, develop possible solutions and cut food waste.

Waste & Recycling (pdf, 142.73 KB)