Sustainability

27 July 2022

For the good of the environment and climate and to reduce energy consumption, REWE will no longer produce paper flyers

The decision will save more than 73,000 tonnes of paper, 70,000 tonnes of CO2, and 380 million kWh of energy per year, while not affecting the scope or affordability of promotional offers
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The end of an era for the retail sector: REWE is the first food retailer in Germany to take the decision to move away from printed flyers. The weekly promotional bulletin highlighting special offers across Germany’s more than 3,700 REWE stores is one of the sector’s longest-standing marketing tools and is distributed to millions of German homes. To support the sustainability and digitisation strategies of Germany’s second-largest food retailer, this will soon come to an end. As of 1 July 2023, flyers will no longer be printed or distributed; however, new and familiar media channels will be used to significantly expand promotional activity. This will have a huge impact on the environment, climate, and the sustainable use of resources, saving more than 73,000 tonnes of paper, 70,000 tonnes of CO2, 1.1 million tonnes of water, and 380 million kWh of energy per year. These energy savings are particularly significant at present due to the ongoing debate surrounding Germany’s future energy security, which is why we have expedited the implementation of this decision.

A productive way to tackle the climate and energy crises

“As part of its sustainability strategy, REWE has repeatedly shown courage over the years, questioning the old ways of doing things and consistently introducing more sustainable alternatives. In this regard, REWE was also the first German food retailer to convert all of its stores to green energy in 2008 and to ban plastic bags from its stores in 2016. Once again, with its decision to stop printing and distributing flyers, REWE is taking the lead in the industry. Not only will this move significantly reduce our carbon footprint, but it also marks another milestone in our climate targets. At the same time, it demonstrates our solidarity in these times of crisis by helping to alleviate our country’s future energy security challenges,” says Lionel Souque, CEO of the REWE Group.

NABU, Germany’s largest independent nature protection organisation, has been advising and supporting REWE’s sustainability work since 2009. Their common goal is to reduce resource consumption and prevent waste. NABU was involved in 2016 when the decision was made to ban plastic bags. “The paper manufacturing process has a significant environmental impact. Industrial forestry and large-scale logging destroy natural ecosystems and carbon sinks. They also require the use of environmentally damaging chemicals and large amounts of water and gas. It is therefore absolutely clear that something has to change if we want to safeguard resources that are essential for human existence,” says Leif Miller, NABU CEO. “NABU is pleased that REWE takes its responsibilities seriously and is moving away from printed flyers. This is a major decision which will benefit the natural world, and we hope that many other competitors in the food retail trade will follow suit,” adds Leif Miller, NABU CEO.

A resolute step for greater sustainability and digitisation

REWE has been committed to sustainability in its corporate strategy for years and has gradually been transforming its processes and products successfully with this goal in mind. Digitisation is a primary way of achieving this aim, particularly where this offers added value to the customer. The conventional printed flyer has therefore been under scrutiny at REWE for some time. Following a successful trial, the decision was taken to replace this energy- and carbon-intensive method of communication and to move towards more digital-based pricing information and conventional advertisements. In the future, REWE’s more than 200weekly special offers will continue to be available; the only difference is that they will no longer be printed. Instead, they will be sent in an environmentally-friendly format, such as via digital channels like the REWE app and as a range of coupons and benefits. The money saved by ending the production of printed flyers is being invested in other promotional channels. REWE is therefore also making a significant contribution to environmental protection by reducing its use of resources within the value chain (carbon footprint).

“We are rethinking and reinventing our promotional marketing for the future. We want to reach customers of all ages in a modern, targeted manner via the channels they actually use,” says Lionel Souque. “We will of course continue to have more than 200 attractive special offers for our customers every week as usual. We are reinvesting the money saved by no longer producing paper flyers in other marketing channels and selected sustainability projects such as NABU’s climate fund. We are delighted that this is enabling us to reduce our carbon footprint by such a large amount, thereby making a significant contribution to society.”

A decision with huge potential savings – for the good of the environment

Until now, REWE has distributed around 25 million flyers per week. In 2021, this involved the production and printing of more than 73,000 tonnes of paper. The paper production and printing processes are particularly energy intensive and account for 90% of the promotional flyers’ carbon footprint. In this respect, the environmental benefit is the best publicity for the acceptance of this decision.

The following comparisons illustrate the potential savings* arising from the switch to digital flyers:

  • Environment: approx. 390,000 m³ of timber, equivalent to the amount of wood used in 356 REWE Green Farming stores

  • 1.1 million m³ of water

  • Climate: over 70,000 t of CO2, equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of more than 60,000 vehicles powered by combustion engines

  • Energy: approx. 380 million kWh, equivalent to the annual energy consumption of 100,000 4-person households

At the start of August 2022, REWE took the initial step of reducing the circulation of its paper flyers by 4 million.

New communications channels, reliable (special) offers

With the rise of digitisation, there has been an increase in the number of media channels and the resulting opportunities to place advertising efficiently using fewer resources. At the same time, media consumption and the ways in which purchasing decisions are made have changed. In view of these factors and to support its sustainability and climate targets, REWE also sees opportunities to reduce resource consumption and greenhouse gas emissions associated with marketing campaigns and even to increase the visibility of its offers through more frequent and extensive communications. In essence, the flyer content is being digitised. The principle, scope, product choice, and affordability of the weekly offers will remain the same. Likewise, the digital version of the flyer – available at rewe.de/angebote and in the REWE app – will also continue. In addition, REWE will make increasing use of conventional media channels to promote the more than 200 weekly special offers and will also support the transition with an intensive, long-term marketing and sustainability campaign under the slogan #umdenkbar. REWE supermarkets will also continue to prominently display promotional price tickets on their shelves so that customers are informed about that week’s price reductions.

 

* Figures based on calculations by Systain Consulting GmbH

About REWE

With sales of 28.4 billion euros (2022), more than 160.000 employees and over 3,800 REWE stores, REWE Markt GmbH is one of Germany’s leading food retail companies. REWE stores are run as subsidiaries or by independent REWE retailers.

The cooperatively organised REWE Group is one of the leading trade and tourism groups in Germany and Europe. In 2022, the company generated a total external turnover of around 84.8 billion euros. Founded in 1927, the REWE Group has more than 384,000 employees and operates in 21 European countries.

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Raimund Esser
Head of Corporate Communications at
REWE Markt

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