Closing the Loop on Plastics

Plastics & Packaging

Closing the loop on plastics

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We are acutely aware of the important role that packaging plays protecting food, keeping it safe and minimising food waste. Equally, we have long been committed to tackling the important issue of plastic waste, and the detrimental impact that this is having on the environment, especially our oceans.

Systemic change is urgently needed to tackle both food and plastic waste in tandem. It’s why we have launched our sustainable packaging and plastic strategy ‘Circular Motion’, committing to making Lidl Changes for the Better.

Circular Motion is based around five streams:

  • Reduce – if plastic is not needed, we’ll opt for an alternative material, but where it’s needed, we’ll avoid unnecessary or excessive packaging
  • Recycle – design our packaging with end-of-life in mind, ensuring it is easier to recycle, and champion recycled content and the circular shift
  • Reuse – investigate reusable and refillable options, either instore for our customers to use or as products
  • Engagetalk to our customers on pack, through media, be transparent on our progress, what we’re doing and the changes we're making
  • Collaborate – work collectively with our suppliers, packaging suppliers, NGOs, government and customers to drive this shift

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

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HOW ARE WE DOING?

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

  2020 Status
  By 2022, reduce own label plastic packaging by 20% relatively against a 2017 baseline*  18%
  By 2025, 50% of own label packaging to be made of recycled content  30%
  By 2025, 100% of own label packaging will be recyclable, reusable, refillable or renewable

  80% by product

  91% by tonnage

*Relative reduction based on tonnage of plastic per £1m revenue

New Packaging goals 2020

  Packaging Goals 2020

  2020 Status (where applicable)
  By 2025, reduce own label plastic packaging by 40% relatively against a 2017 baseline  18%
  By 2025, reduce own label packaging by 25% relatively against a 2019 baseline  Strategy in development
  By 2021, 30% of own label plastic packaging to contain recycled content  21%

  By 2023, 90% of own label & branded packaging to be recyclable, reusable, refillable or renewable

  80% by product

  91% by tonnage

  By 2025, 100% of own label & branded packaging to be recyclable, reusable, refillable or renewable   See row above 
  By 2021, we are committed to doubling the number of refillable/ reusable packaging available in our stores  2 products
  By 2020, eliminate problematic plastic packaging (black plastic, PVC and EPS) from own label core food range  95% eliminated
  By the end of 2020, 100% of pulp and fibre-based own label packaging in core food range to be either responsibly sourced from FSC, PEFC, or equivalent, or     made using recycled content  Review underway
  Ongoing - we reserve the right to delist branded suppliers with excessive or unrecyclable packaging 

Our Progress

MEASURING OUR PLASTIC PACKAGING FOOTPRINT

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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 2019 our secondary plastic packaging was 1,936 tonnes and our tertiary plastic packaging was 1,147 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 2019, we’ve reduced our plastic footprint relatively by just over 18% compared to our 2017 baseline. Our progress doesn’t end there – through this work our own-label plastic packaging footprint has reduced in absolute terms by 2% against our baseline.

Breakdown of plastic packaging by polymer type in 2019

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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.

TACKLING OCEAN PLASTICS

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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, now preventing more than 4 million water bottles from entering the ocean each 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 four 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:

  • Make use of fishing gear and practices designed to avoid the capture of non-target species and non-target size, age, and/or sex of the target species);  minimise mortality of this catch where it cannot be avoided, and reduce discards of what cannot be released alive
  • Implement appropriate fishing methods designed to minimise adverse impacts on habitat, especially in critical or sensitive zones such as spawning and nursery areas
  • Minimise operational waste such as lost fishing gear, oil spills, on-board spoilage of catch, etc.

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

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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.

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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.

TOWARDS SYSTEMIC CHANGE

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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.

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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.