K Group tackles plastic waste and promotes plastics recycling on many fronts

Plastic is useful for storage and packaging purposes, but it causes problems when it ends up in water bodies and elsewhere in the environment. K Group is actively testing and developing new ways, big and small, to reduce plastic waste and promote plastics recycling and reuse. Below we look at some of the recent efforts by K Group to tackle problems related to plastics.

Uniform pricing for all shopping bags in K-food stores

In spring 2018, K Group changed the pricing of its shopping bags, and consequently plastic, paper and biodegradable bags now all cost the same in all K-food stores. K Group hopes the change will make it easier for customers to make sustainable everyday choices, increasing the share of sales of alternative shopping bags. K Group is committed to the EU objective of reducing the annual consumption of plastic bags to 40 bags per capita by 2025.

Microplastics removed from all of K Group’s own brand detergents

The dangers and problems related to microplastics have been gaining increasing attention lately. Microplastics end up in nature from, for example, road surfaces and car tyres and as a result of the breakdown of larger plastic waste. Another source for microplastics in nature are cosmetics and detergents. K Group removed microplastics from all of its own brand cosmetics products last year, and will do the same for all of its own brand detergents by the end of this year.

Guppyfriend: washing bags to fight the microplastics problem

Microfibers are shed when synthetic fabrics used for sports, soft shell and fleece clothing are washed. K-Citymarkets have started selling Guppyfriend washing bags, which collect as much as 99% of the microfibres released from textiles during washing, and thus help consumers prevent microplastics from entering waterbodies. Guppyfriend is used like a regular washing bag, and the released microplastics and microfibers can easily be removed from the hems of the bag after wash and disposed of with regular waste. From autumn onwards, the washing bags will also be included in the selections of K-Rautas.

New packaging alternatives to expanded polystyrene

K Group’s objective is that by the end of 2018, half of Kesko’s fish deliveries to stores will be in cardboard boxes. One of the new packaging solutions in K-food stores is DS Smith's Tuoreboxi (Fresh Box), a fully recyclable corrugated cardboard alternative for transporting fish, meat, berries and frozen foods. Tuoreboxi takes up less space than traditional polystyrene boxes, thus reducing transport-related emissions. K-food stores have also successfully adopted the wood fibre-based EcoFishBoxes produced by Stora Enso.

K-retailers brought a plastics recycling point to the residents of Otava

K-retailers are also eagerly joining the efforts to recycle plastics and reduce their consumption. As all K-retailers are independent entrepreneurs, they have a unique opportunity to engage in sustainability efforts locally. When the residents of Otava in Mikkeli, Eastern Finland, wondered why there was no local plastics recycling point, Heli and Ilpo Romppanen, the retailers of K-Market Otava, sprang into action. The Romppanens set up a recycling point at the store site, and now the people of Otava can easily recycle their plastics.

K-Market Ruokakippari donates proceeds from small plastic bags to the John Nurminen Foundation

Retailer Mikko Järvi, who runs K-Market Ruokakippari in Herttoniemenranta, Helsinki, decided to curb the consumption of the thin small plastic bags used for loose fresh fruit and vegetables. The bags are now subject to a charge, with the proceeds donated to the John Nurminen Foundation, which does valuable work to reduce the environmental load and risks directed at the sea (read more). Overall, the consumption of the small plastic bags decreased by 20% in K-food stores last year. Stores also offer alternatives, such as paper bags, reusable bags and biodegradable bags for fruit and vegetables.

Read Kesko’s plastics policy

Read more: 5 innovative methods by K Group to reduce plastic waste

K-Market Ruokakippari’s retailer Mikko Järvi (left) donates proceeds from small plastic bags to the John Nurminen Foundation. Heli and Ilpo Romppanen, the retailers of K-Market Otava, set up a plastics recycling point for the local residents.

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