The Purpose of Packaging

The Purpose of Packaging


Purpose of plastic

Why not eliminate plastic completely? Plastic packaging has played a vital role in making food last longer, retain its nutritional value and keeping customers safe.

When making packaging decisions, our buying teams carefully balance shelf life (and in turn customer safety, product protection and food waste) and carbon miles, with the negative consequences associated with plastic production and waste.

And we help our suppliers do the same. As part of our product development process, our own brand food and packaging suppliers must meet our Packaging Standards of 'Preferred', 'Acceptable' and 'To Be Avoided' materials.

Preferred Packaging Materials


  • Glass
  • Steel & Aluminium
  • Cartonboard
  • PET
  • PE
  • PP


  • Paper
  • Aluminium
  • PE
  • PP

Acceptable Packaging Materials


  • Cartonboard (if coated / laminated, one-sided, less than 10% by weight or removable by customer)


  • PET
  • Mixed materials, if mono material solutions would risk detrimental impact on product and pack functionality*

*Expectation is that suppliers are working with their packaging suppliers to achieve mono-material solutions

To Be Avoided Packaging Materials

  • Bioplastics, biodegradables and compostables
  • PS / HIPS / EPS
  • PVC
  • Additives incorporated into plastics which risk microplastics, such as oxo-degradables
  • Black plastic or colours containing carbon black pigment
  • Coated / laminated cartonboard, double-sided or greater than 15% by weight
  • Use of PFAS chemicals to impart grease resistance
  • Use of BPA in cans
Plastics & packaging

In addition to meeting our Packaging Standards – all packaging suppliers must ensure that they adhere to all necessary regulations in relation to packaging and materials in contact with food. We require all packaging suppliers to be accredited to relevant industry standards – such as the BRC Global Packaging Standard for UK packaging suppliers, or relevant local standards for international packaging suppliers. Those supplying plastic packaging should additionally ensure that all necessary measures are put in place to avoid environmental issues such as plastic pellet loss – be it through industry schemes such as Operation Clean Sweep, or additional environmental modules in industry standards

We do not currently advocate the use of bioplastics, biodegradable or compostable plastics for our packaging due to concerns at end-of-life and additional land-use and resource pressures.

We also have the same expectations of our branded suppliers, who represent around 15% of the products we sell in our stores. In 2020 we wrote to all of these suppliers making it clear that they need to avoid unnecessary or unrecyclable packaging as part of their contract with us, and now reserve the right to delist brands that do not comply

We’re walking the talk in our operational use of plastic packaging like pallets, wraps and trays. Our store and regional distribution teams make sure plastic waste is separated at store level so that it can be recycled by our dedicated recycling teams at our warehouses.

We believe that plastic plays an important role in a sustainable food system and must be designed to ensure that it's either recyclable, reusable, refillable or renewable and made with recycled material that is as light as possible.

This is what our Circular Motion strategy is all about.

What else are we doing?

Working on refill and reuse

In addition to working with our suppliers to ensure their packaging achieves our Circular Motion strategy, we’re also working with industry partners to look at new, innovative ways to reduce our customers’ packaging footprints. We’re continually on the lookout for scaleable solutions which offer the same level of customer satisfaction, safety and shelf life compared to packaged equivalents.

In 2020, we were the first UK retailer to launch an own-label refill product, W5 Ecoclear Starter Kit, a refillable cleaning kit which used 99% less single-use plastic compared to conventional trigger-bottle cleaning sprays. We are working with our supply base to offer further Refill at Home solutions, as well as exploring opportunities for Refill in Store.

What can I do?

On our products, you can’t miss our On Pack Recycling Labels (OPRL) that show how you can play your part in closing the plastic loop. You may also see our Sustainability Logo where we’ve improved recyclability, reduced the amount of material used or incorporated recycled content.

Over the next three years, we’ll be making it even easier for you to recycle by giving clear guidance on pack as to whether something should be recycled or not recycled – don’t forget to keep an eye out for extra calls to action – like putting the lid back on your bottle or rinsing your ready meal tray!

On Pack Recycling Label

These labels offer clear guidance for customers on whether packaging is recyclable or non-recyclable.

Sustainability Logo

This label is used on Lidl branded products where we’ve improved recyclability, reduced the amount of material used or incorporated recycled content.

Forest Stewardship Council

FSC is an international non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting responsible forestry. FSC certifies forests all over the world to ensure they meet the highest environmental and social standards. Find out more here.

Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification

PEFC is an international non-profit, non-governmental organisation dedicated to promoting Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) through independent third-party certification. PEFC works throughout the entire forest supply chain to promote good practice in the forest and to ensure that timber and non-timber forest products are produced with respect for the highest ecological, social and ethical standards. Find out more here.

Prevented Ocean Plastic

In January 2020, Lidl GB introduced Prevented Ocean Plastic into our packaging range. You can find out more here.