Discount supermarket Lidl has cut more than a billion pieces of plastic from products, in an effort to align with company values on minimal waste and sustainability
Work with suppliers has allowed it to cut more than 24m plastic trays and punnets from its fruit and vegetable range, and up to 25m plastic lids from dairy and yoghurt ranges.
It also removed 19m plastic tags from its fruit and vegetable lines and 3.5m pieces of plastic wrap on fresh flowers, and is aiming to ensure all pulp and fibre-based packs are recycled or responsibly sourced.
The retailer has said it worked closely with suppliers to raise plastic packaging standards across its supply chains.
The company now expects to cut two billion pieces of plastic from its supply chains by 2022 as a result of the relationships and collaborations forged with suppliers.
To reach the initial target, the retailer not only ensured suppliers agreed to its policies, but has enforced compliance and threatened to delist those unable to meet the criteria.
A spokesperson said: “We have set out clear expectations with our suppliers of the standards they must reach”.
In 2020, Lidl informed all suppliers of branded products they would have to avoid unnecessary or non-recyclable packaging and worked with suppliers to find alternative packaging materials and trialled new designs across its stores.
For instance, in collaboration with its lead dairy and yoghurt supplier, the firm tested if it could ditch plastic overlids – the external caps covering the pull tab on yogurt pots – to ensure there would be no adverse impact to product or packaging functionality.
A spokesperson said: “Based on our findings with these lead strategic partners, we have not only now deployed this nationally, but are now taking these learnings and applying them to other suppliers in these categories, as well as products in other categories.”
All Lidl’s home brand products and packaging suppliers must also adhere to the company’s packaging standards of ‘preferred’, ‘acceptable’, and ‘to be avoided’ materials.
The company hopes this will “ensure that all necessary measures are put in place to avoid environmental issues when producing packaging”, and aims to make all of its own-brand packaging widely recyclable, reusable or refillable by 2025.
Christian Härtnagel, CEO at Lidl GB, said: “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.
“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.”