Closing the Loop on Plastics

Plastics & Packaging

Closing the loop on plastics

Fruit and veg bag

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.


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 Status2021 Status
  By 2022, reduce own label plastic packaging by 20% relatively against a 2017 baseline*  18%18.5%
  By 2025, 50% of own label packaging to be made of recycled content  30%


50.8% Complete


  By 2025, 100% of own label packaging will be recyclable, reusable, refillable or renewable

 80% by product

 91% by tonnage

 84% by product

96% by tonnage        

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

New Packaging goals 2020

  Packaging Goals 2020

  2020 Status (where applicable)2021 Status (where applicable)
  By 2025, reduce own label plastic packaging by 40% relatively against a 2017 baseline  18%18.5%
  By 2025, reduce own label packaging by 25% relatively against a 2019 baseline  Strategy in development+3.4%
  By 2021, 30% of own label plastic packaging to contain recycled content  21%30.4% Complete

  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 81%
  By 2021, we are committed to doubling the number of refillable/ reusable packaging available in our stores  2 products2 products
  By 2020, eliminate problematic plastic packaging (black plastic, PVC and EPS) from own label core food range  95% eliminatedComplete
  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 underwayComplete
 We reserve the right to delist branded suppliers with excessive or unrecyclable packagingOngoingOngoing

Plastics & Packaging Milestones

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 & Packaging MilestoneStatus
Prevented 10 millionth water bottle from entering the oceans through the support of the Prevented Ocean Plastic initiativeComplete April 2021

Removed 1 billion single us plastic items from our store

Complete May 2021
Remove 1.5 billion single us plastic items from our storesBy end of 2021
Remove 2 billion single use plastic items from our storesBy end of 2022


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:

  • 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.

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 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 Plastic

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.