After removing more than one billion pieces of plastic from UK stores, Lidl GB has set new ambitions to reduce plastic packaging further (unlike Aussie supermarket chains).

The supermarket has pledged to remove a further half a billion pieces of plastic by the end of 2021, delivering a cumulative reduction of 1.5 billion pieces, then removing a further half a billion pieces by the end of 2022, resulting in a cumulative reduction of two billion pieces.

Packaging items that have been removed to date include 24 million plastic trays and punnets from fresh fruits and vegetables; 25 million secondary plastic lids from yoghurts and other dairy products; 3.5 million pieces of plastic wrapping from fresh flowers and 19 million plastic tags and bags from fruit and vegetables. Lidl GB notably started offering reusable alternatives to fruit and vegetable bags in 2019.

“Problematic” plastics, including black plastics, expanded polystyrene and PVC, have also been completely removed from Lidl GB’s core range of food packaging.

In total, Lidl GB has reduced its plastic packaging output by 18.5%. It is striving to deliver a 20% reduction by the start of 2022 and claims it is on track to deliver this target. To ensure that paper alternatives are not driving unintended negative impacts, the supermarket has pledged to only use certified responsibly sourced pulp and fibre.

Aside from celebrating the milestone on plastic reduction, Lidl GB has posted progress on the inclusion of recycled plastic content in packaging. The firm has revealed that it has reached a commitment to ensure that 50% of own-brand packaging is made using recycled content, originally set with a 2025 deadline.

Building on this success, Lidl GB has outlines plans to increase its sourcing of ‘ocean-bound’ plastic for packaging. It first launched packaging made using plastics collected from South-East Asian Regions with coastlines and/or rivers, which would have likely otherwise ended up polluting the environment, back in February 2020, on selected seafood lines. To date, ten million water bottles have been recycled into Lidl GB packaging through the initiative. Packaging will now be launched for berries by the end of 2021.

“It is fantastic that we have been able to reach this significant milestone which demonstrates our commitment to tackling excessive plastic waste and working collaboratively with all of our suppliers,” Lidl GB’s chief executive Christian Hartnagel said.

“We recognise, however, there is still more to do in this area which is why we are pushing to go further by removing even more pieces of plastic from our stores and packaging over the next two years and rolling out our leading ocean-bound plastic packaging across more and more categories in our stores.”

Lidl GB’s overarching plastics commitments are rooted in its membership to the WRAP UK Plastics Pact. Aside from the targets on removal and recycled content detailed above, the retailer is aiming to ensure that all own-brand packaging is widely recyclable, reusable or refillable by 2025. The broader plastics strategy of Lidl GB’s parent company, the Schwarz Group, is called ‘Reset Plastic’.