Lidl is to remove packaging which cannot be recycled from its entire fruit and vegetable range across all its stores in Ireland before Christmas.
The supermarket is also taking all single use plastic items such as straws and disposable plates, cups and cutlery off its shelves.
Black plastic packaging which is not recycled in Ireland or the UK because sorting systems cannot detect the carbon black pigment, will no longer be used by the retailer by Christmas and will also be scrapped from its fresh fish products by February 2019, followed by fresh meat, poultry and cured meat ranges before next August.
As a result of this move by Lidl, over 65 tonnes of black plastic waste will be avoided annually from fruit and vegetables alone.
Plastic-stemmed cotton buds will be next for removal from shelves on the list in the coming months and all the single-use plastic items are being replaced with biodegradable alternatives.
“These are significant steps,” Lidl Ireland and Northern Ireland managing director, JP Scally said. “Sustainability is core to our business and we are proud to continue leading the retail sector in implementing ambitious measures which will deliver real and lasting benefits for everyone.”
Earlier this year the company announced it had achieved ‘zero waste to landfill’ and imposed a ban on microbeads in all cosmetic and household ranges.
The discount supermarket chain also published several plastic reduction targets, including using 20 per cent less plastic packaging by 2022 and having 100 per cent recyclable own-brand packaging by 2025.
It is also to trial more upackaged fruit and vegetable options with over 25 per cent of its fresh produce range now packaging-free.
"These announcements are a clear signal of our commitment to safeguarding the environment and to managing our operations in the most progressive and sustainable way possible," Mr Scally said." It's important and right that we act decisively and proactively in this area and take meaningful and measurable steps that matter to us, our customers and our communities."
Environmental pressure has been increasing on retailers, manfacturers and consumers to reduce single-use plastic consumption. The Minister for the Environment Denis Naughten recently said he favoured accelerating the introduction of a ban on single-use plastic bar limited exceptions.