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GRI 301, 306

Circular Economy

In a linear economy, raw materials used to make a product are not returned to the cycle after its service life. Rather they are disposed of, mostly burnt, in the end and therefore cannot be reused. This leads to an increasing consumption of resources, which has impacts on the climate and the environment. The production of waste (for example, through packaging), including food waste, is also a problem yet to be solved when it comes to dealing with raw materials.

In addition to climate and biodiversity, the circular economy is also a focus issue in the area of action of the environment within the Green Products Strategy 2030. The REWE Group aims to avoid the waste of resources, reuse packaging and products, and close as many material cycles as possible through a high-quality recycling system. Packaging is a subtopic of the circular economy and is described in greater detail in Packaging.

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. As part of this effort, the REWE Group optimises the use of relevant resources in its business processes and takes product- and raw-material-related measures aimed at both the upstream and downstream links in the value chain.

In 2021, the REWE Group adopted a strategy for implementing the circular economy in the supply chains of private labels sold at REWE, PENNY and toom Baumarkt DIY stores in Germany. The strategy has been documented in the Guideline on Circular Economy. It is intended to provide the basis for gradually anchoring the circular economy in the value chain of products.

The strategic principles for the circular economy, which have already been defined since 2020 for the area of packaging in the Guideline on More Eco-Friendly Packaging, are therefore supplemented by a holistic approach for products and their value chains. This enables existing activities and other potential recycling projects to be consolidated and communicated in a structured framework.


The REWE Group aims to use the circular economy to actively reduce the consumption of resources in the value chain of its products and thereby make a positive contribution to environmental and climate protection. The topic of the circular economy is being taken into consideration and further expanded in all relevant areas. Specific goals and requirements, for partners and suppliers, for example, are summarised in the Guideline on More Eco-Friendly Packaging and Guideline on More Sustainable Textiles. In the area of action “vigilant approach to food” under Projects and Sponsorships, the REWE Group also reports on its commitment to avoiding food waste.


In order to implement its circular economy strategy, the REWE Group uses three principles for its measures: “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. By applying these principles along the life cycle of the Group's products – from raw material production to consumption – the aim is to avoid waste and ensure that resources are used as long and as often as possible.

  • Reduce:
    The REWE Group is committed to working with its suppliers to avoid the production of waste in the value chain of food products, as well as in cultivation and production. When it comes to producing durables and consumables, the demand for resources should be reduced and production waste minimised, where possible, for example through reduced material usage. To achieve this, processes are being further developed and production innovations created.
  • Reuse:
    In the case of durables, the quality and longevity are further developed in order to offer products with a longer useful life. In the case of consumables such as, for example, single-use household items, it should also be checked whether there are more sustainable reusable alternatives. The Group is also investigating options for offering customers products through rental or sharing models.
  • Recycle:
    Secondary raw materials such as recycled plastics or recycled paper are used where possible to produce products. In addition, the Group is continuously checking for recycling potential in its own material streams in order to identify and close new material loops. Recyclables are separated and fed to a high-quality recycling system.

Measures for implementing a circular economy

The REWE Group continuously examines potential for the further development of the circular economy within the Group. This involves investigating the use of resources and generation of waste in key supply chains in order to develop further strategic measures and goals based on this.

With regards to the company's own material streams, the company is also developing approaches to feed reusable materials along the value chain back into material loops and reduce the demand for primary resources.

In the product ranges of private labels, there should be more emphasis on products which make a positive contribution to the circular economy according to the principles of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”.

Finally, the principles of the circular economy are also to be integrated into purchasing processes and play a greater role in existing environmental programmes in the future.

The REWE Group has underscored its ambitions by joining the EU Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practices. The code was drawn up jointly by European associations and companies, the departments of the European Commission, and with the active participation of international organisations, non-governmental organisations, unions and professional associations. In July 2021, the EU Commission presented the code as part of the European “Farm to Fork” strategy. Amongst other things, the signature of this code is enabling the REWE Group to further strengthen its efforts to reduce food waste along the value chain, in cooperation with suppliers and with its customers in mind.