Lidl the first retailer in Ireland to launch prevented ocean plastic packaging

Initiative to block almost 19 tonnes of plastic from entering the ocean annually

Lidl supermarket group has become the first retailer in Ireland to use prevented ocean plastic (Pop), a new form of fresh food packaging using “ocean-bound plastic” — that would have otherwise ended up in marine environments.

The Pop has been recycled and reintroduced into its packaging of fish products. Working with its Cork-based supplier Keohane Seafoods, Lidl has moved five fresh fish products into this innovative packaging. A full rollout is due to be completed by the end of July.

The initiative is part of Lidl’s commitment to ensure 50 per cent of packaging is made from recycled materials by 2025.

Lidl Ireland’s responsible sourcing manager Cáit Lynch said: “We want to assure our customers that by shopping with us they are selecting responsibly sourced products while also helping to protect our oceans. From removing plastic pollution to protecting fish stocks, we’re committed to making a difference.”

Up to 90 per cent of plastic packaging reaching the ocean, enters from coastlines in developing regions such as southeast Asia. This recycling, she added, would prevent almost 19 tonnes of plastic from entering the ocean per year — equivalent to almost 750,000 plastic water bottles.

In addition to clear environmental benefits, the use of Pop also has societal benefits, she noted. “The collection of these bottles equates to approximately a year’s worth of well-paid work for an average bottle collector in predominantly poor coastal regions across southeast Asia.”

Salmon lines

Lidl is also set to become the first retailer in Ireland to carry products with the GGN label. The consumer label will feature on seven Keohane Seafoods fresh salmon lines — it stands for certified, responsible farming and transparency, and offers consumers consistent and relevant assurance about the responsible farming of these products.

Products bearing the label come from farms with production processes that are independently certified and verified as being produced in line with responsible farming practices covering food safety; environmental sustainability, animal welfare, traceability, and worker wellbeing.

Accompanying the logo on product packaging is a unique 13-digit identification number that can be entered into the GGN label portal to trace the origins of the product.

“The addition of the GGN label onto these fresh fish products for the first time in Ireland is also an important step in offering enhanced product transparency to our customers,” said Lidl Ireland senior buyer Anna Ferguson.

Since beginning its partnership with Lidl more than 11 years ago, Keohane Seafoods has become one of Ireland’s largest quality seafood processors and now employs a workforce of more than 220 employees. It signed a €20 million deal with Lidl earlier this year.

An Investment in new packaging machinery in 2021 made it possible to reduce the size of 11 of Lidl’s own-brand fresh fish trays, while the weight of the trays has been reduced by 21 per cent, thereby removing 28 tonnes of plastic from Lidl’s supply chain annually.

Keohane Seafoods managing director Colman Keohane added: “All our seafood is sourced from responsibly managed fisheries and farms. And with the support from the team at Lidl through our involvement in the Lidl supplier engagement programme, we have been actively innovating to reduce the environmental impact of the range from reducing pack sizes to now launching ocean-bound plastic packaging.”

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times