Lidl to remove black plastic packaging by end of month
Black food packaging is not recyclable and ends up in landfill (pic: Terry Murden)
Lidl will be the first British supermarket to stop using black plastic across its entire fruit and vegetable range, saving an estimated 50 tonnes of black plastic waste a year.
It is removing black plastic from products including mushrooms, baby sweetcorn, asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower, by the end of this month.
The chain has also committed to removing black plastic from its fresh meat, fish and poultry range by August next year.
The move comes a week after Greenpeace campaigners staged a demonstration at more than 60 supermarkets across the UK, removing packaging and leaving it at checkouts.
UK supermarkets generate more than 800,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste every year, much of it ending up in the sea, says Greenpeace.
Lidl is continuing to test and trial more loose fruit and veg across its fresh produce range, and is in the process of trialling the removal of packaging from onions, cabbages and lettuces.
In addition to reducing plastic packaging by 20% across its own-label products, Lidl UK is committed to ensuring that, where it is necessary to protect food, 100% of its own-label packaging will be widely recyclable, reusable or refillable.
Black plastic packaging is not recyclable in the UK, as it cannot be detected by the sorting systems used for plastic recycling.
Ryan McDonnell, Lidl’s commercial board director, said: “This significant move away from black plastic demonstrates our dedication to tackling this important topic.
“We recognise the current challenge that black plastic presents to the recycling industry, which is why we have made it our priority to remove it from our fresh ranges.
“As part of our commitment to achieving our ambitious targets, we are continually exploring opportunities to cut our packaging, and where packaging is necessary to protect food and minimise food waste, we will ensure that it is reusable, refillable or recyclable.”
Lidl UK was one of the first retailers in the UK to encourage customers to re-use their shopping bags and has charged for plastic carrier bags for the last 24 years for this reason.
This commitment was further reinforced in 2017 through the removal of all single-use bags from Lidl stores.
In the same year, Lidl made some strong positive steps ahead of legislation by eradicating mircro-beads from all cosmetic and household products, and has committed to only selling packs of paper straws, along with the removal of plastic-stemmed cotton buds.
Louise Edge, senior oceans campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: “Supermarkets are the place where a lot of the throwaway plastic filling up our homes comes from, so it’s good to see more of them are responding to the public’s concern by taking action.
“Black plastic is one of the most problematic forms of plastic you can find on supermarket shelves, and Lidl are doing the right thing by phasing it out as quickly as possible.
“This is a clear signal to both our government and other major retailers that we don’t have to wait decades before getting rid of problem plastic.
“This is only a start, but the faster we act the easier it will be to protect our environment from the scourge of plastic waste.”