Lidl rolls out reusable produce bags to cut plastics
Lidl has begun selling reusable bags for consumers to put their loose fruit and vegetables in, in what the firm claims is a first for a UK supermarket.
Made from a durable mesh net, the bags are being labelled as “Green Bags” and are being sold at a cost of 69p for a pack of two at all of Lidl’s 760 UK stores.
It is hoped that the zip-closure bags will discourage shoppers from using the clear, single-use plastic bags typically offered in produce aisles and sway them towards buying loose instead of choosing pre-packaged options.
“Ever since we opened our doors in Great Britain, 25 years ago, we have been strongly committed to finding ways to reduce our plastic waste,” Lidl’s head of CSR Georgina Hall said.
“Today’s announcement is the next step, and one which we hope will help customers shift to a truly reusable option.”
The nationwide roll-out of the “Green Bags” builds on Lidl’s move to eliminate hard-to-recycle black plastics from its fruit and vegetable lines, which was completed in 2018. Replacing the black plastics with alternatives such as cardboard and clear plastics has reduced the supermarket's annual black plastics footprint by 50 tonnes.
Lidl UK’s overarching plastics commitments are to ensure that all own-brand packaging is “widely” recyclable, reusable or renewable by 2025, and to reduce its plastic packaging by one-fifth, by weight, by 2022 (against a 2017 baseline). Since setting these targets, the firm has removed all single-use carrier bags from stores, replacing them with reusable alternatives.
Lidl's move comes at a time when UK supermarkets are facing increasing pressure to remove plastic packaging from some aisles altogether, with much public furore having been directed at pre-packed produce since Blue Planet 2 first aired.
One survey of 5,000 consumers last spring, for example, found that 80% would endorse a supermarket’s move to go plastic-free, while 91% would be more likely to encourage friends and family to shop there as a result of such a pledge.
More recently, a similar study of 7,000 UK shoppers found that that 92% would prefer to buy a plastic-free unit of their favourite product than one housed in plastic
In response to these changing demands, many big-name supermarkets have moved to increase their packaging-free offerings. The likes of Iceland, Tesco and Marks & Spencer (M&S) are all currently trialling loose fruit and vegetable aisles, while Morrisons has gone one step further and introduced them nationwide.
Sainsbury's, meanwhile, has pledged to remove all single-use plastic bags from its fruit and vegetable aisles and from its in-store bakeries by September 2019.