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GRI 301


The REWE Group uses a range of materials in its daily business activities and it requires raw materials to do so. The efficient use of these resources is a core element of sustainable business practices.

Three areas of action were defined in the pillars Energy, Climate and the Environment and Green Products of the group-wide sustainability strategy: energy efficiency, climate-relevant emissions and conservation of resources. The latter includes activities in the area of material savings. The REWE Group’s goal is to conserve natural resources wherever possible and to close material loops.

GRI 301: Materials

Management approach


In its Guidelines on Sustainable Business Practices, the REWE Group has committed itself to the efficient use of the natural resources soil, air and water as well as of raw materials and fuels.


The REWE Group optimises relevant resource consumption in its business processes and implements product and raw material-related measures in upstream and downstream stages of the value chain. These include implementation of product-related measures in the areas of packaging and the circular economy, such as reusable alternatives, reducing the use of material, using recycling materials and optimising material cycles (see Packaging and Circular economy). Aspects of resource conservation are also taken into account in the PRO PLANET process (for more information, refer to PRO PLANET).

Projects and measures to conserve resources

In its own business processes, the REWE Group implements the following measures to close material cycles and conserve resources.

Reusable systems in logistics prevent transport waste

To reduce the amount of waste from transport packaging, the logistics operation of the REWE Group employs reusable containers. In recent years, the percentage of reusable pool boxes has been increased. It now totals about 60 per cent in the area of fruit and vegetables in Germany. In addition, conventional wooden pallets are being replaced by plastic alternatives. Plastic pallets are lighter and have more capacity measured against transportable package volume. This has a positive effect on energy efficiency during transportation. The plastic palettes can also be completely recycled and are returned to the recovered substance cycle when a defect occurs.

Use of low aromatic printing inks for recycled paper

Instead of conventional inks that contain mineral oils, only low aromatic inks have been used since January 2016 to print fliers at the REWE Group. In accomplishing this, the REWE Group fulfilled the requirements of the environmental seal Blauer Engel (Blue Angel) for printed products (RAL 195). The seal called for the use of low-emission paints and ink to start in 2017. The change that was accelerated by the REWE Group has led to long-term changes in the entire industry: Leading ink manufacturers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland now supply mainly low aromatic ink for heatset printing. This is a significant step in the use of recycled paper for food packaging. If recycled paper is used in combination with conventional mineral oil-based inks, the aromatic substances can migrate to the food, which is considered a health risk. For this reason, the REWE Group worked towards turning the use of aromatic-free ink into a standard for the printing industry.

Optimisation of material loops in textiles

The REWE Group is working on measures to create closed material loops in order to conserve resources and promote sustainable consumption. For this purpose, the company created a return system for textiles in 2016 and, a year later, set up the first collection containers at the locations of the PENNY sales line with the help of a service provider. In taking this approach, the REWE Group intends to promote the reuse of textiles and to prevent them from being discarded. At the end of 2021, 575 collection containers at 424 locations were available for consumers to return textiles. The collected textiles are used as second-hand clothing or are recycled in the industry as input material in textile production. Textiles that cannot be recycled are professionally disposed of.

GRI 301-1:

Materials used by weight or volume

For a trade and tourism company, paper is an important resource, which plays a significant role, especially in product advertising. Total paper consumption by the REWE Group rose from about 156,000 tonnes in 2020 to nearly 175,000 tonnes in 2021. Most paper consumption can be attributed to the production of flyers. The increase in paper consumption in 2021 is due mainly to an increased use following the lower level of consumption in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. This trend is also reflected in specific paper consumption, which increased to 17.3 kilograms per square metre of sales area in 2021.

Total paper consumption (tonnes)

2019 2020 2021
167,969 155,808 174,646

Specific paper consumption (kg/m²)

2019 2020 2021
16.84 15.16 17.31
Scope: REWE Group Germany and Austria, including retailers.

GRI 301-2:

Recycled input materials used

To make consumption of paper, which was defined to be a significant resource, more environmentally conscious over the long term, the REWE Group encourages the use of recycled paper, which is utilised in particular for fliers and other printed matter as well as in its administration work.

More recycled paper reduces the ecological impact of paper consumption

Since 2009, the REWE Group has used mainly more environmentally friendly paper. The share of more environmentally friendly paper in total consumption was nearly 100 per cent in 2021. Recycled paper (with and without the Blue Angel environmental certification) makes up around 97 per cent of the total of more environmentally friendly paper. For the almost three per cent remaining, the company uses virgin fibre paper from sustainable forestry that has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®), the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC™) or the EU Ecolabel.