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Retailer commits to carbon neutrality by 2025 among suite of green measures

Lidl says it will eliminate packaging and install solar panels and charging points

Lidl has committed to a 46 per cent reduction in operational emissions by 2030, compensating for the rest through offsets. Photograph: Getty Images

Lidl has committed to a 46 per cent reduction in operational emissions by 2030, compensating for the rest through offsets. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Food waste has the highest environmental footprint in the retail sector, but Lidl is one supermarket striving to reduce its impact. As part of Lidl Ireland’s sustainability strategy, A Better Tomorrow, the company has committed to a 46 per cent reduction in operational emissions by 2030, compensating for the rest through offsets. The retailer has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2025. 

It is also taking steps to improve sustainability on other fronts, too, including the reduction of its own brand packaging, the removal of plastic microbeads from own-brand cosmetics and household cleaning products, and the elimination of black plastic from own-brand products, as well as from packaging for items such as fruit, veg, fish and cured meat.

By 2025, 100 per cent of Lidl’s own-brand packaging is on track to be either widely recyclable, reusable or renewable, with 50 per cent of the materials used in own-brand packaging to come from recycled materials.

It is also launching a dedicated Supplier Engagement Programme, the first of its kind in the Irish retail industry. This will see it work with key suppliers to develop corporate social responsibility and sustainability projects to improve the supplier’s environmental impact and help them to grow their future business sustainably.

Chief executive of Lidl Ireland and Northern Ireland JP Scally and, background, Owen Keogh, head of corporate social responsibility. Photograph: Fennell Photography
Chief executive of Lidl Ireland and Northern Ireland JP Scally and, background, Owen Keogh, head of corporate social responsibility. Photograph: Fennell Photography

Having already made the switch to purchasing 100 per cent green energy in 2018, Lidl is also supporting a switch to energy generation by committing to retrofitting solar panelling across at least 15 stores per year.

The €75 million expansion of its Mullingar distribution centre will see the installation of the retailer’s largest solar array, and one of the largest in the country. It will generate enough energy to meet about 25 per cent of the distribution centre’s requirements.

Charging points

Lidl also has 74 dedicated customer charging points across its store network, the most of any retailer in Ireland, which it is set to increase.

“A Better Tomorrow is our comprehensive sustainability strategy that targets all functions of our business, from sustainable sourcing, packaging and how we approach construction, to how we can improve the lives of our colleagues and the communities we operate in,” says Owen Keogh, head of corporate social responsibility for Lidl Ireland and Northern Ireland.

“We continue to collaborate with our suppliers and industry experts to ensure we are setting the standard for sustainability in the sector, ensuring that our strategy crystallises our commitment to providing a safe and nurturing environment for our colleagues, to contribute positively to our communities and to be exemplary environmental stewards.”

As part of its sustainability plans, Lidl also works with charity partner Jigsaw, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health. To date it has raised more than €1 million for the charity.

Used bottles

In April it became the first retailer here to become Just a Minute (JAM) Card-friendly across its network. The initiative helps provide a better shopping experience for customers who experience any kind of communication barrier resulting from, perhaps, a learning difficulty, autism or a brain injury.

Last month Lidl became the first retailer in Ireland to trial a reverse vending machine, as part of a deposit return scheme currently being undertaken in Glenageary, Dublin. The machines allow customers to deposit used plastic drinks bottles and aluminium cans in return for money-back vouchers redeemable in store. Earlier this year it became the first retailer in the world to combat period poverty by offering free period products in stores nationwide.