Waste & recycling

Avoiding waste, recycling raw materials, making packaging as environmentally friendly as possible: in the reporting year, Migros raised awareness of correct recycling and implemented measures to reduce food waste and the use of disposable plastic bags.

Migros operates a comprehensive recycling system for waste. Out of the close to 236'000 t of operating waste and customer returns in the Migros Cooperatives and M-Industry, about 78% was recycled in 2016. The aim is to conserve resources and increase the recycling rate, such as through recycling plastic bottles.

In addition, Migros is working to systematically reduce its packaging volume and use environmentally friendly material, such as recycled material. It is the first retailer to implement the voluntary industry agreement to reduce the use of disposable plastic bags nationwide. It also takes measures to reduce food waste. Products approaching their sell-by date are sold to customers and staff at reduced prices or donated to aid organisations.

Comprehensive recycling system

Migros is steadily expanding its collection system and making staff and customers more aware of how to collect and separate recyclable material correctly. It strives to ensure that all collected waste is reused as a recycled material in new products, and thus makes an important contribution to the recycling economy. 

PET and plastic bottles

In 2016, customers returned close to 16'000 t of recyclable material to the Migros branches, where it was collected and recycled by Migros. The approximately 293 million PET drinks bottles accounted for the largest proportion of customer returns (9'393 t). According to PET Recycling Switzerland, Migros again collected more PET drinks bottles than any other Swiss retailer and is on course to meet its promise. The granules from the recycled bottles are used to make new drinks bottles. 

In the reporting year, Migros recovered 2'900 t household plastic bottles, 15.4% more than in the previous year. The recycled plastic bottles are used to produce plastic pipes for the construction industry, among other things.

In some Swiss cantons and municipalities, mixed collection bags have been available for all plastic waste, such as bottles, yoghurt pots, bowls and tubes, since 2016. Migros is sceptical about mixed collection, as about 70% of household plastic waste cannot be recycled economically or used to make new products. It therefore believes that PET and plastic bottles should be collected separately.

Key Figures Cooperative Retailing and Industry


Customer returns, Cooperative Retailing

Customer returns by type
in 1'000 tonnes
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Change from previous year
PET drinks bottles 8.88 9.37 9.24 9.50 9.47 -0.3%
other plastic bottles 1.14 1.24 1.97 2.48 2.87 15.4%
Electronic scrap 3.07 2.91 2.80 2.98 2.68 -10.0%
Batteries 0.31 0.31 0.36 0.36 0.34 -5.0%
Various 0.46 0.43 0.52 0.56 0.62 12.0%
Total 13.90 14.30 14.90 15.90 16.00 0.6%

Volume of waste

Volume of waste 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Change from previous year
Waste, total (in 1'000 tonnes) 221.6 225.9 235.8 239.2 235.9 -1.4%
Industry 100.4 104.3 110.6 110.5 106 -4.1%
Branches, logistics enterprises and FMC 1 121.2 121.6 125.3 128.7 130 1.0%
Waste, specific (in kg/CHF 1'000 sales) 2 13.8 13.7 14.0 14.2 13.9 -2.0%

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

2 Income from Retailing and M-Industry (Migros Cooperatives excl. Tegut, FMC, industrial and logistics companies)


Composition, waste

Composition of waste
in tonnes
Absolute Percentage
Organic waste 76'482 33%
Paper, cardboard 51'953 22%
Animal by-products 30'870 13%
Rubbish 37'525 16%
Plastic 17'284 7%
Wood, bulky goods, construction waste, etc. 10'036 4%
Metal, glass 3'739 2%
Special waste and waste requiring inspection 1 7'137 3%
Total 235'026 100%

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


Waste recycling rate

Waste recycling rate
in % 1
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Change from previous year
Recycling rate 72.6 74.3 75.4 76.9 77.6 1.0%

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


Waste disposal processes

Waste disposal process
in 1'000 tonnes
Absolute Percentage
Materials recycling 83 35%
Animal feed 72 31%
KVA, in-house incineration, cement plant 51 22%
Fermentation 24 10%
Composting 3 1%
Waste disposal site 2 1%
Total 235 100%

Measures to raise awareness among customers

In 2016, Migros again supported various campaigns to encourage the public to recycle household PET and plastic bottles correctly. A short film, new stickers and amended flyers and posters at the collection points provide customers with information on how to dispose of waste correctly.

In some larger Migros shopping centres, the touring exhibition RessourCITY by the Practical Environmental Protection Switzerland Foundation (PUSCH) raised awareness of resource use during consumption in an interactive way. Migros supported the implementation of the "Packaging and Recycling" station.

Prevention of littering is an important social issue for Migros. For example, the Migros Cooperative Basel, Denner and Globus support the "Drägg Sagg" campaign, which encourages correct disposal of take-away waste in the city of Basel.


Improvement of packaging

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 packaging recycling. For example, in 2016 a new packaging for organic meat was introduced. It is made mostly from FSC-certified cardboard and is covered with a thin film. The film can be removed after use and the cardboard optimally recycled.

Migros made environmental improvements to the packaging of various products in 2016 as part of its Generation M promise. For example, the thickness of glass used in jam jars for the Favorit brand was reduced; thus Migros saves around 126 t of glass per year. In addition, the PET bottles of various mineral waters from M-Industry company Aproz now consist of 40% recycled PET (previously 35%), which reduces the amount of new material required by 116 t per year. Migros has optimised 2'726 t of packaging material since 2013. It has thus taken an important step to meeting its objective of optimising more than 6'000 t of packaging material by 2020.

Disposable plastic bags made from recycled material

"The charge for disposable plastic bags in Migros branches has proved effective, with a reduction of 80%."

Michel Monteil, Head of Waste and Raw Materials, BAFU

Since November, the "Raschelsäckli" have cost five cents at the checkouts of Migros branches. Migros became the first retailer to implement the voluntary industry agreement nationwide for which it had consistently lobbied. The new bags are made fully from recycled material. The plastic used comes from the waste generated by the Neuendorf distribution centre. Within just two months of the charge being introduced, use of plastic bags fell by about 80% in line with expectations. Profits generated from the sale of the bags will be put towards external environmental projects this year.


Migros promotes reusable packaging

In the reporting year, the Migros Cooperative Zurich introduced a reusable fruit and vegetable bag made of polyester. It thereby responded to customer requests for environmentally friendly packaging for fresh food. The bag will be introduced in the other nine Cooperatives during the course of this year.

In 2016, Migros also tested reusable bowls in selected Migros takeaways and restaurants as an environmentally friendly alternative to disposable tableware. Due to the positive response, the plastic bowls were introduced at numerous takeaways and restaurants throughout Switzerland on 1 January 2017, enabling customers to make a contribution to avoidance of waste and conservation of resources.

Food waste

A third of all food worldwide is thrown away. Migros strives to keep waste as low as possible. And it does so successfully: 98.5% of food in the branches, restaurants and take-aways was sold as food, offered at a reduced price or donated in 2016. Just 1.5% of the food offered in Migros stores, restaurants and take-aways was not sold as food or donated: 1.4% was used as animal feed, compost or in fermentation, while 0.1% was incinerated as waste. Migros aims to reduce the proportion even further in the future.

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, which Migros also supports financially. 

In addition, the Migros companies Jowa and ELSA-MIFROMA also donated surplus fresh food via the "Food Bridge" food bank in the reporting year. Denner now processes food that cannot be consumed, despite partnerships with aid organisations, into energy and heat at biogas plants.

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 hopes to reduce food waste by 15.0% between 2013 and 2020, make good use of all usable parts of a product, and recycle 100% of them. Useful parts of a product will now be incinerated only if it is required by law. Micarna's priorities when utilising the useful parts of a product are food, feed and energy.

In the reporting year, Micarna apprentices launched the pilot project Mix-Carna. It reduces food waste in the area of product development by collecting, packing and labelling the food, and selling it in the staff shop after it has been checked by quality control.

In 2016, the butcher Mérat & Cie AG launched a nose-to-tail range in order to raise awareness of use of every part of the animal among food businesses and customers. Alongside making optimum use of all parts of the animal, Mérat is also intending to re-establish forgotten food, such as knuckle of pork and offal.

Avoiding food waste in restaurants and take-aways

Together with the United Against Waste association, the Migros Group trained about 100 managerial staff in catering operations on how to avoid food waste in staff restaurants, the Migros restaurants and the Migros take-aways.

In the Micarna staff restaurants, an awareness campaign on the topic of food waste was launched. Overall, Micarna was able to reduce food waste in the two weeks of the campaign by almost 27% in comparison with the previous year. The campaign will be repeated regularly.

Waste & recycling (pdf, 76.98 KB)