Lidl is first UK supermarket to remove black plastic from fruit & veg

Lidl UK has announced that it’s to 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.

Black plastic is being removed from products including mushrooms, baby sweetcorn, asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower, with the process due to be completed this month.

The supermarket has also committed to removing black plastic from its fresh meat, fish and poultry range by August 2019.

The move is one of many steps that the retailer is taking as part of its plastic reduction strategy, and follows the publication of its ambitious targets in March.

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, commented, “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.”

These commitments build on Lidl UK’s strong track record on plastic reduction, which the supermarket has long been committed to. It 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 mircrobeads 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.