Lidl launches laundry refills as Walkers goes plastic-free for large crisp multipacks

Image: Lidl GB

From Thursday (13 October), on-shelf refill options for Lidl GB’s own-brand ‘Formil’ laundry detergents have been available at two stores – one in Lichfield, Staffordshire and one in Swadlincote, Derbyshire.

Customers at these stores are able to pick up a flexible plastic pouch and fill it up on-shelf. Lidl GB has stated that, by weight, each pouch is made using 33% less plastic than standard, rigid plastic Formil bottles of the same size.

Each pouch is fitted with a special chip, which the refill machines can scan to determine whether the pouch is new or being reused. Customers reusing their pouch will then receive a 20p discount for refilling.

Chilean start-up Algramo has provided Lidl GB with the machines. Throughout the trial, customer feedback will be collected to inform the potential of scaling the use of the machines across Lidl GB’s other stores. They could be a good solution for smaller stores; the supermarket has trialled a large, standing refill machine in Kingswinford, Dudley, to good feedback – but the Algramo machines are more compact.

“We are incredibly proud of this latest innovation, which will enable our customers to save money and reduce their plastic consumption,” said Lidl GB’s CR manager Mark Newbold.

A survey conducted by City to Sea earlier this year revealed that most people still find low-plastic and no-plastic products more expensive than their equivalents housed in single-use plastic. Two-thirds of participants said the supermarkets and brands they have access to are not doing enough to provide affordable refill options or other packaging-free options. 40% of people believe that zero-waste or plastic-free options are always more expensive.

Thinking inside of the box

In related news, PepsiCo-owned crisp brand Walkers is moving all of its 22-bag and 24-bag multipacks from plastic outer packaging to cardboard boxes (pictured). It has trialled this packaging format at Tesco and has worked with other major supermarkets to prepare for a wider rollout.

Walkers has also invested in a new stretch film to wrap around pallets of products before they are distributed to retailers. The film contains tiny air bubbles, which reduce the weight of plastic used.

Walkers anticipates that the changes will mitigate the use of 250 tonnes of virgin plastic each year. It has invested £14m to enable the changes.

PepsiCo UK and Ireland’s sustainable packaging director Simon Devaney said the changes are an “important step forward” for aligning the Walkers brand with the company’s overarching commitments to reduce plastic and cut emissions.

Earlier this year, Walkers closed its crisp packet recycling scheme, operated in the UK in partnership with TerraCycle. The decision was taken due to the fact that many major supermarkets now host in-store take-back and recycling schemes for mixed flexible plastics – which were not widely available when it first launched the TerraCycle scheme in 2018.

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