Lidl announces plans to reduce plastic waste

Lidl has announced today (20 September) its plans to ‘eliminate plastic waste’ through supporting the reduction and recycling of the material across its stores.

The initiative forms part of the company’s REset Plastic Strategy, a scheme that aims to reduce plastic refuse through closing the recycling loop. In order to enact this change, the supermarket brand has affirmed a series of plastic-reducing measures. One example of this is in the replacement of all single-use fruit and vegetable bags with compostable options, with Lidl stating that this should result in the removal of approximately 275 tonnes of plastic from the waste stream. This compostable packaging is also designed for reuse as caddy liners for domestic food waste collections and within home composting.

Soft plasticBeyond the introduction of compostable fruit and vegetable bags, the company plans on launching a trial plastic bag and wrapping recycling scheme in 12 of its locations across the West Midlands. Due to be rolled out in the next month, the trial will enable customers to return soft plastic packaging to the cooperating stores, which is currently unavailable for collection from homes by over 80 per cent of UK local authorities. Consumers will be able to return the soft plastic – including carrier bags; biscuit wrappers; crisp packets; bread bags; and pet food pouches, regardless of brand or retailer – to drop-off points situated in each of the participating locations’ storefronts. Once collected, the material will be recycled and repurposed into new products, such as refuse sacks and rigid construction products. Lidl states that the initiative is to be expanded nationwide if successful.

A similar initiative was trialled by Tesco back in March, with the supermarket introducing soft plastics recycling to 171 of its stores across the South West of England and Wales. Tesco has since rolled out the collection scheme nationally. Co-op followed suit later on in the year, launching soft plastics recycling to 1,500 of its locations back in July, with a view to extending this project to 2,300 locations by November.

Lidl states that the listed initiatives build on the company’s commitments to making 100 per cent of its own-brand packaging either recyclable, reusable or refillable by 2025. This year, the supermarket brand states, 50 per cent of its packaging was made from recycled materials, with plastic usage purportedly being reduced by 18.5 per cent. It also states that it has made efforts to ensure that 100 per cent of pulp and fibre-based own-label packaging across its core food ranges are either sourced from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) or equivalent bodies, or made from recycled content in order to meet this commitment.

Christian Härtnagel, CEO at Lidl GB, commented: “At Lidl GB we are committed to tackling excessive plastic waste and our compostable fruit and vegetable bags are the latest innovation to help limit the amount of plastic in our environment.

“As a bricks and mortar retailer, how we operate in our stores, and the packaging we use, plays such a vital role in helping customers to tackle their plastic consumption. By offering convenient solutions such as compostable bags and making it easier for customers to recycle more plastic through our in-store drop off points, we are hoping to give customers the opportunity to take small steps to reduce and recycle their plastic packaging.” 

Helen Bird, Strategic Technical Manager, WRAP, said: “While we need to reduce single-use packaging where possible, where it’s not, packaging must be recyclable and that’s what members of The UK Plastics Pact have pledged to do by 2025. 

“It’s great news that Lidl is taking its responsibility seriously in this area and introducing collection points for bags and wrapping under The Pact. Our research showed that many citizens were willing to bring this material back to stores and we’re encouraged by the success of these collections to date.”