Dutch department store de Bijenkorf saves 65,000 single-use plastic bottles. Every single year.

October 12, 2020

As of September 2020, the luxury department store chain in The Netherlands is proud part of the Dopper Wave against single-use water bottles. Single-use water bottles? Not at de Bijenkorf. On September 29, 2020, de Bijenkorf joined the Dopper Wave. As part of this international movement of sustainable trailblazers, de Bijenkorf promises to no longer offer plastic single-use plastic water bottles to its customers and its employees.

Instead all drinks will be offered in a more sustainable packaging alternative, both in-store and to employees. The impact they are creating? “We save over 65,000 single-use plastic bottles from being used. Every single year", says Justin Pariag, head of the Sustainable Business at de Bijenkorf.

Pride multiplied

For the Dutch people among us, there’s no need to explain who de Bijenkorf is. Probably best compared to British luxury department store Harrods, de Bijenkorf was founded 150 years ago and has become an integral part of the Dutch economy. Starting small, over the years de Bijenkorf has grown into an iconic department store chain that we’re proud of in the Netherlands. With 3,000 employees, the most luxurious brands, and international appeal.

In 2016, the company added another reason to be proud when it launched its sustainability ambitions. Pariag: “In 2025 we want to be selling sustainable brands only.”

A big goal, and de Bijenkorf is the first large retailer in the world to make such a promise. In reality it means de Bijenkorf is in daily conversations with the brands they sell to help them develop and realize their sustainability ambitions. And while to many it may seem an impossible feat for such a large organization, de Bijenkorf is determined that this is precisely why they should change. Using their platform to unite consumers and brands to work together towards a sustainable world for us all.

The dot is on the horizon.

Plastic, definitely not always that fantastic

Single-use plastic is a major problem in retail. Something that de Bijenkorf recognizes. That’s why they decided to change and are implementing alternatives throughout the entire business. And, as they found out, when you start talking to your brands about sustainability ambitions, you may find yourself challenged by them in turn. Like the conversations Dopper has had with de Bijenkorf since the start of our collaboration in 2015, about how de Bijenkorf could get rid of single-use plastic water bottles.

Pariag: “This may seem very simple, but unfortunately it is not. Customers like to buy a drink in a bottle they can take with them, that’s why single-use plastic water bottles were offered in our restaurants. In addition to that, our employees were also used to grabbing a bottle if they wanted to have a drink of water.” In short: de Bijenkorf had to work both before and behind the scenes to make this ambition a reality.

Pariag and his team started by mapping out which types of single-use plastic are offered at de Bijenkorf. After a very thorough analysis (read: large Excel sheets), they looked for sustainable alternatives such as glass or tin. At the same time, they started talking to all the store managers and employees about the negative consequences of single-use plastic water bottles. Now, every single one of them uses a reusable bottle like our Dopper!

Where at first employees were hesitant and believed getting rid of single-use plastic bottles was an impossible task, those same employees are now surprised at how easily it has been implemented. Bonus point: even customers are now walking around with their very own reusable bottle more and more!

Sustainable leaders

In September, de Bijenkorf signed the Dopper Wave with which they promise to no longer offer single-use plastic water bottles to their customers and employees. With this, de Bijenkorf joins a global movement consisting of over 1,500 frontrunners of sustainability. Some examples include:, WWF and Ace & Tate. Together they ask attention to the problems surrounding plastic pollution caused by single-use plastic water bottles. “With the Dopper Wave we want to inspire people and organizations to make small adjustments in their daily life that together create a major impact: cleaner oceans,” said Virginia Yanquilevich, CEO of Dopper.

Pariag does not have to think long about whether it has been worthwhile. "Absolutely. By signing the Dopper Wave we save 65,000 single-use plastic bottles per year. All of these bottles will no longer end up in the environment!”

A final tip from Justin Pariag for other organizations:

“Have guts and do it. There is no other choice."

Inspired? Join the Dopper Wave here.

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