Sustainability

12 September 2023

toom further reduces plastic use

Reading time: 6 min.

Eighteen months ago, toom Baumarkt DIY Store introduced 60,000 Floritray reusable pallets for transporting plants. It has now added a further 300,000 of the pallets across all of its stores. The widespread adoption of these more sustainable, reusable pallets, which are made of recycled plastic, will save up to 202 metric tons of plastic every year. toom Managing Director Dominique Rotondi discusses the initiative and the plans for the future.

In April 2022, toom became the first retailer in the industry to introduce Floritray reusable pallets for transporting plants. From the end of August, the project, which toom initially piloted with 60,000 pallets, has been expanded by a further 300,000 pallets, including an additional pot size.

Reusable solutions will play an integral role also in the garden retail industry. Where plants were previously transported in disposable plastic pallets that would simply be thrown away, the cycle can now be closed with the Floritray reusable pallet, avoiding both plastic waste and CO2 emissions.

Reducing plastic waste and closing material cycles are central aspects of the toom Baumarkt sustainability strategy. In fact, the company has been committed to more sustainable development in the garden and DIY industry for many years now.

We spoke to Dominique Rotondi, Managing Director for Purchasing and Logistics, who is responsible for sustainability at toom Baumarkt.

More than 90 percent of toom’s plant pots are recyclable, enabling the recycling of 450 metric tons of plastic every year. © toom

Your ambition when you introduced reusable pallets at toom back in 2021 was to both save plastic and improve the company’s carbon footprint. What is your assessment after two years – have you achieved this ambition?

Dominique Rotondi: We are firmly committed to our strategy of avoiding, reducing and improving packaging, and reducing plastic waste is of course central to our sustainability management approach. After all, we all know that global plastic production continues unabated and is only just starting to slow down.
We have been a pioneer in looking at reusable packaging in the garden retail industry.

After the pilot phase in 2021, we made a head start in April 2022 with the introduction of around 60,000 pallets across 230 stores, thus offering a closed-loop system for plant pallets.

This brings significant reductions in plastic. Total potential savings are in the region of seven million disposable crates. With the 360,000 reusable pallets in circulation at toom, we will be able to avoid using around 1.35 million disposable pallets per year. We will be able to say next year whether it is working out as planned, but we are extremely optimistic.

Reducing plastic waste and closing material cycles are central aspects of the toom Baumarkt sustainability strategy. The company has been committed to more sustainable development in the garden and DIY industry for many years now.

Dominique Rotondi, Managing Director for Purchasing and Logistics with responsibility for sustainability at toom Baumarkt DIY Store
dominique-rotondi
Dominique Rotondi, Managing Director for Purchasing and Logistics with responsibility for sustainability at toom Baumarkt DIY Store

What are the plans for the future?

Dominique Rotondi: The project, which we piloted with 60,000 pallets, has this year been expanded by a further 300,000. This also includes another pot size. We now need time to see how everything goes and look into what other potential changes would be advisable.

Floritray is an industry solution but is currently ‘only’ available at toom.

Dominique Rotondi: Floritray is a proven, commercially available solution and it is time for other companies from the industry to step up and join forces to rapidly generate added value for customers and the environment in a solution-focused manner. We firmly believe that Floritray has the potential to become a reusable industry solution, and we will continue to promote it.

Is toom taking any other measures to reduce plastic waste, or are further measures planned?

Dominique Rotondi: When it comes to packaging, we focus on the packaging strategy already mentioned:
Avoid: We avoid any unnecessary packaging. For example, toom is saving 24 metric tons of plastic a year by no longer plastic-wrapping glued laminated timber.
Reduce: We are reducing packaging materials to a minimum by replacing plastic labels for house plants, for instance, with paper. The new labels are half the weight and reduce CO2 emissions by 64 percent per label.
Improve: Instead of plastic derived from crude oil, for instance, toom is increasingly using packaging made from recycled plastic. In 2021, for example, the company began to switch its store-brand potting soil over to bags made from at least 80 percent post-consumer recycled plastic that has already had at least one life cycle. This packaging is itself recyclable, which keeps the materials in circulation.
But there are even more examples of how toom is leading the way in more environmentally friendly, sustainable packaging: for example, it has achieved a CO2 reduction of up to 34 percent by switching to grass paper for insect-friendly seeds. More than 90 percent of our plant pots are recyclable, enabling 450 metric tons of plastic to be recycled per year. The pots are also made from at least 50 percent post-consumer recycled plastic.

Thank you very much for talking to us.

dominique-rotondi
About:
Dominique Rotondi
Managing Director for Purchasing and Logistics with responsibility for sustainability at toom Baumarkt DIY Store