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Press release: 18 November 2021
One of the world’s largest international grocery retail groups has been reported to the Dutch financial regulator for failing to disclose key information on its use of plastics and for failing to report plastic-related risk to its investors, in breach of its legal requirements.
Grocery retailers like Ahold Delhaize are a major source of plastic packaging, which is the largest single use of plastics and makes up an even greater proportion of plastic waste. Research by Plastic Soup Foundation found that more than 80% of Albert Heijn – one of Ahold Delhaize’s supermarkets – products are packaged in single-use plastic.
These supermarkets’ reliance on plastics means that they are very vulnerable to key regulatory and cultural changes coming their way:
In their complaint, ClientEarth and Plastic Soup Foundation explain that these trends amount to material financial risks and as such, need to be disclosed to investors – which Ahold Delhaize does not do.
ClientEarth plastics lawyer Rosa Pritchard said: “As one of the world’s largest supermarket groups, Ahold Delhaize heavily relies on single-use plastics to make its business work. But the regulatory landscape is changing at speed, threatening business models dependent on wasteful single-use plastics and leaving companies like Ahold Delhaize exposed to serious financial headwinds. Yet Ahold Delhaize has not disclosed this information to investors – which is a breach of EU law.”
Key findings from the lawyers’ review of Ahold Delhaize’s reporting include that:
ClientEarth and Plastic Soup Foundation said that a robust response from Ahold Delhaize as well as a strong signal from the regulator are needed.
Jurjen de Waal, Plastic Soup Foundation’s plastic waste campaigner, said: “As a market-leader, Ahold Delhaize needs to address its overreliance on plastics and turn off the tap on single-use plastic packaging. It should do this by including re-use and refill options and cutting out unnecessary packaging.”
Pritchard added: “The AFM is responsible for enforcing the law so that financial players have relevant information to make sustainable investment decisions.”
ClientEarth is a non-profit organisation that uses the law to create systemic change that protects the Earth for – and with – its inhabitants. We are tackling climate change, protecting nature and stopping pollution, with partners and citizens around the globe. We hold industry and governments to account, and defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. From our offices in Europe, Asia and the USA we shape, implement and enforce the law, to build a future for our planet in which people and nature can thrive together.