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In a move that could remove 50 tonnes of waste a year, Lidl has announced plans to stop using black plastic across its fruit and vegetable range.

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Lidl, the fast-growing German discount retailer, has bought a site near Leeds to build its 17th regional distribution centre (RDC) in the UK. The company currently has 12 RDCs in operation and the Leeds site is the 5th in their pipeline of new warehouses: Doncaster, Bolton, Peterborough and Luton.

The business has over 700 stores currently, supporting its market share of over 5% and growth rate of over 8%. Lidl is investing £1.45bn on expanding its UK network in 2017-2018, including two new RDCs in 2017, Exeter and Wednesbury. The pipeline of new RDCs demonstrates their commitment to continued growth from both new and existing stores over the coming years.

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Single-use plastics is a growing concern in the grocery retail industry due to its environmental impact. We are seeing increased activity in the retail and FMCG sector to reduce single-use plastics in-stores, and Lidl's sister company, Kaufland, is one of the latest retailers to make such a commitment.

Kaufland announces strategy to reduce plastics by 2025

Kaufland alongside its sister company, Lidl, launched a comprehensive 360-degree strategy to reduce single-use plastics in their stores by 2025. The retailer aims to:

  • reduce consumption of single-use plastics by at least 20% by 2025
  • increase share of recyclable packaging in private label to 100% by 2025
  • delist selected plastic items, such as straws, until the end of 2019 and offer alternatives

Kaufland will apply three core tactics in reducing single-use plastics in-store. Use of alternative packaging, increase share of recyclable products, and make some ranges or categories plastic-free.

How will Kaufland implement its 360-degree strategy?

The 360-degree strategy has a three-prong approach to reducing single-use plastics in-store.

  • Educating shoppers to adopt environmentally responsible consumption behaviour, by informing them about alternatives, causes, and recycling.
  • Set up a recycling infrastructure in and around Kaufland stores such as collection points, self-service recycling machines, and rewarding them with discount coupons.
  • Work with the suppliers to reduce SKUs with single-use plastic packaging and encourage use of sustainable packaging.

Lidl is to invest €100m in Portugal 2018, whilst in Spain, it’s furthering its sustainable programme by eliminating plastic bags.

Supply chain investments in Portugal

According to Hipersuper, Lidl Portugal will split its investment between opening new stores and remodelling exiting ones. €20m of the €100m will be spent on the modernisation of the Torres Novas warehouse. The warehouse will be extended by 10,000 sq m.

€70m will also be invested over three years to build a new warehouse of 50,000 sq m. This will replace the Famalicão warehouse and should be operational by 2020.

Reducing plastics in Iberia

In Portugal and Spain Lidl aims to reduce plastic consumption by at least 20% by 2025. Furthermore, it will ensure that all plastic used in its private label products is 100% recyclable by 2025. This effort is part of Lidl’s sustainability strategy.

Lidl will achieve this through adapting the packaging of its private label ranges, which represent 80% to 90% of the products it stocks. Measures like reducing plastic packaging, using more sustainable alternatives, and selling unpackaged/bulk items will be used.

In Spain, Lidl will eliminate plastic bags by the end of 2018. The initiative was rolled out first in Lidl’s Balearic Island stores from May 2018 and will continue to be rolled out nationwide throughout the year.The campaign is being advertised on Lidl.es, as the company seeks to promote its sustainable vision.

These plastic-reducing initiatives fit into the European strategy for plastics, presented by the European Commission at the beginning of 2018 – by 2030 all plastic should be recyclable or reusable. Lidl’s engagement with circular economy principles aligns with the European Commission’s plan for circular solutions, particularly when considering the entire lifecycle of plastics.

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A practical one day workshop for all roles in suppliers, to help develop your understanding of the vital part that supply chains play in underpinning FMCG businesses.