Closing the Loop on Plastics

Plastics & Packaging

Our commitment - Reduce and recycle. REset

Fruit and veg bag

Plastic fulfils important functions in grocery retailing. It is sturdy, lightweight and can be used in many ways. In particular, plastic protects food during transport and allows us to guarantee quality, shelf-life and freshness for customers. However, because more and more plastic is produced and too little is recycled, there is a growing problem for humans, animals and the environment.

We are committed to tackling the important issue of plastic waste, and the detrimental impact that this is having on the environment, especially our oceans. Our actions fall under REset Plastic, the international plastic strategy of the Schwarz Group, which was started in 2018.

There is no simple solution to the issue of plastics. To do justice to the complexity, we have introduced five action areas that take a holistic look at the issue. 

REset Plastic and its five action areas: 

  • REduce – Wherever possible, we avoid the use of plastic. If plastic is not needed, we’ll opt for an alternative material, but where it’s needed, we’ll avoid unnecessary or excessive packaging.
  • REdesign - We design products and packaging that are recyclable and foster closed-loop systems. This means designing products with end-of-life in mind, working to ensure recycled content where possible.
  • REcycle - We collect, sort and recycle plastic. We are investigating reusable and refillable options, either instore for our customers to use or as products.
  • REmove – We provide support in removing plastic from the environment. 
  • REsearch – We invest in research and development of innovative solutions and provide information on recycling and resource conservation.

Find out more about how we make our packaging decisions here.

Our goals


In 2018 we set ourselves 3 ambitious targets to drive improvements to our product range on plastic reduction, recyclability and circularity. Since launching the programme and due to strong focus on packaging within our buying processes, we have made strong progress across all areas and decided to set ourselves 8 new ambitious goals in August 2020 to evolve our approach. Through these new goals we continue to challenge ourselves to achieve greater reductions in plastics and scale up our impact across new packaging materials and formats.

Find out about our progress against our old and new targets in the tables below:

packaging goals 2018
packaging goals 2020

Now three years into our ‘Circular Motion’ strategy, our work to date has shown how making Lidl Changes for the Better can add up to significant positive change.

plastics milestones new

70t of plastic removed

70t of plastic removed from milk bottles, with bottles containing up to 30% recycled content

Removing plastic trays

Removing plastic trays across our fruit and veg range, including tomatoes, tenderstem broccoli, asparagus and baby corn

Tags removed

Removed tags from fruit & veg, including our spring onions and bunched beetroot

Pizza bases replaced with cardboard

18t of expanded polystyrene pizza bases replaced with cardboard

100% recycled content

Up to 100% recycled content in trigger spray cleaning bottles and egg boxes

Prevented Ocean Plastics

First adopter of Prevented Ocean Plastics, avoiding 10 million water bottles from entering the marine environment to date

Driving circularity

Driving circularity by incorporating recycled content, with up to 50% recycled content across our drinks range

Removing overlids

We are removing overlids from pots in Dairy, working to remove up to 38 million pieces of plastic from the category

Problem plastic

Removed 2,000 tonnes of problem plastics from our shelves, including black plastic, PVC and EPS

Plastic Straws

Removed 67m single use plastic straws from our beverage cartons

Plastic cotton bud stems

Removed 570m plastic stems from our cotton buds

Plastic forks

Removed 8m single use plastic forks from our salads ranges



Whilst we appreciate all of the benefits that plastic has to offer, we’re committed to making sure that our use of this material is optimal and sustainable, given the negative impacts plastic waste can have on our environment should the system fail to capture it. Since announcing our plastic goals in 2018, we’ve worked collaboratively with our suppliers and industry to critically assess each and every pack we put on our shelves to ensure that we are reducing our use of plastic where possible.

In addition to primary packaging, we use plastic packaging to ensure the safe and efficient transport of our products. In 2020, our secondary plastic packaging was 2,068 tonnes and our tertiary plastic packaging was 2,780 tonnes

As one of the fastest-growing UK retailers, this has been a challenge, however we are pleased to report that for our own-label plastic packaging in 2020, we’ve reduced our plastic footprint relatively by 18.5% compared to our 2017 baseline and are on track to achieve our goal of 20% relative reduction by 2022.

Breakdown of plastic packaging by polymer type in 2019

Polymer breakdown

As part of our approach, we continually review our plastic packaging footprint and the materials we use. In our drive towards transparent reporting we have also committed to publicly disclosing our footprint on an annual basis. This helps us to not only track our progress as we reduce plastic, but also demonstrates how we and our suppliers are committed to designing our packaging with end-of-life in mind and championing circularity. This can be seen through the majority of our plastic packaging being made from desirable and recyclable materials, such as PET, PP and PE, and our commitment to moving away from undesirable materials, such as PS, PVC and other materials which are difficult to recycle.

Further information on our 2018 and 2019 plastic footprint can be viewed in our CSR reports here.


Ocean Plastics

We recognise the key role that our business plays in tackling the detrimental impact that plastic is having on our oceans, that is why in early 2020 we were the first GB retailer to introduce Prevented Ocean Plastic into our packing, preventing 10 million water bottles from entering the ocean in our first year. Further information is available here.

We are committed to sourcing 100% of our wild caught seafood from MSC certified sources and are proud to have won the MSC mid-sized retailer of the year for five years running for our commitments to sustainable seafood. Therefore all fishing operations in our supply chain are required to meet, and are assessed against, the following standards:

ocean plastic boxes

Our full policy on the responsible sourcing of fish and seafood can be downloaded here.

Additionally, we recognise that microplastics are another key contributor to ocean plastic pollution. A microplastic can be defined as a solid plastic particle that is not water soluble and is less than or equal to 5mm in size. Microplastics can be defined as primary or secondary. Primary microplastics are a manufactured plastic particle that are intentionally added to products such as shower gels and toothpastes. Secondary microplastics occur when larger plastics are broken down into smaller pieces.

For more information on what we are doing to tackle the negative environmental impacts caused by primary microplastics in our supply chain, download our full policy on microplastics here

Our partners



Our membership of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative

We are a member of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, a cross-sectoral alliance of organisations dedicated to solving the problem of abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear on a global scale. The GGGI aims to improve the health of marine ecosystems; safeguard human health and livelihoods; and protect marine life from harm.

Project Stop

Our membership of Project STOP

Lidl, through its parent company, Schwarz, is the first retail and technical partner for Project STOP (Stop Ocean Plastic). The mission of Project STOP is to design, implement and scale circular economy solutions to marine plastic pollution in Southeast Asia, one of the most problematic areas in the world for marine pollution. We are providing technical advice to local communities in Indonesia to help develop efficient waste management systems.

Plastics Pact

The UK Plastics Pact

Lidl GB is a founding member of the UK Plastics Pact, a trail-blazing, collaborative initiative that sees businesses, Government, local authorities and environmental organisations come together to champion a circular future for plastics.

reset image

REset plastic

As part of the Schwarz Group, we have an opportunity to scale our impact by joining 30 other countries to REset Plastic. The Group’s plastic strategy commits us to close the loop via avoidance and redesign, recycling and removal. Innovation and education are critical to championing systemic change.

Schwarz is one of 850 organisations joining New Plastics Economy, a movement spearheaded by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.