|AEON wants all its bags to be biodegradable by the end of the year |
At the talk show Innovative Solutions and Substitutes for Single-use Plastic Towards Green Consumption organised by VIR two weeks ago, Nguyen Bang Lang, in charge of Sustainable Development at AEON Vietnam, shared the brand’s initiatives and strategies to promote more sustainable consumption.
Lang said retailers should not only offer sustainable products to consumers but also need to take action to help them change their perception and behaviour in the shopping process. “AEON Vietnam’s strategy and activities focus on facilitating customers to make eco-friendly decisions easier,” she said.
One of solutions is the rent-a-bag programme, which started on June 16 at the six AEON general merchandise stores and supermarkets nationwide. Understanding the habits of forgetting to bring a bag when shopping, AEON has come up with an initiative to facilitate customers that aims to reduce the amount of plastic bags consumed every day at supermarkets.
Instead of having to spend VND20,000 (87 US cents) to buy an eco-bag when shopping at AEON Vietnam, customers can borrow these bags from the checkout counter to pack their goods with a deposit fee of only VND5,000 (22 US cents) per bag. Customers will get back their deposit fee on their next purchases.
This initiative is a new step in AEON’s Plastic Free Community project to reduce single-use plastic waste, which was launched at the end of 2019 with a series of activities. These include the use of biodegradable bags, initiatives in internal operations to reduce the consumption of plastic bags from five to three plastic bags per transaction, and so-called greenline cashier counters for customers who refuse to use biodegradable bags and gradually switch from single-use plastic products to more eco-friendly materials.
Up to now, AEON Vietnam is using about 95-96 per cent of biodegradable plastic bags. The rate is expected to reach 100 per cent by the end of this year.
The sustainability direction of AEON Vietnam is integrated into its business strategy, including the selection of partners. “The most important criterion for this combination is to choose partners who have the same values for sustainable development and prioritise these as one of the strategic focuses of the business,” added Lang.
AEON Vietnam wishes to cooperate with suppliers to distribute smart and environmentally-friendly products at its stores across the country.
The Japanese retailer is also cooperating with media partners to spread out the message of sustainable development, call for action within the community, and coordinate with partners to implement sustainability programmes.
Along with activities to promote sustainable green consumption, AEON Vietnam also wants to accompany government agencies, organisations with expertise in sustainable development, and other retailers to fulfil its mission and spread positive values to the community.
Currently, AEON Vietnam is also one of the 16 active members of the Alliance of Retailers to Reduce Single-use Plastic Bags, an initiative implemented by the Institute of Strategy and Policy on Natural Resources and Environment (ISPONRE), the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), and the EU-funded Rethinking Plastics project last year.
“We are looking for partners with more suitable alternatives,” Lang said.
Green consumption and circular economy principles have been included in the company’s philosophy since the opening of the first shopping mall in Vietnam in 2014.
Le Viet Nga, deputy director-general of the Domestic Markets Department under the MoIT assessed, “AEON, together with other retailers, is playing an important role in leading the market, consumers, and the whole manufacturing sector in offering eco-friendly alternatives to single-use plastic items.”