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Lidl NI pioneers customer recycling facilities in-store

From left, Ricky Burnett, ARC 21; Ineta Zukauskiene, Lidl Connswater; and Lidl lover Lewis Armstrong.

Lidl Northern Ireland is laying claim as the first retailer to install customer recycling stations at checkouts across its 38 branches, in a bid to reduce consumers’ packaging waste bought in-store.

The scheme is the first of its kind among supermarkets in Northern Ireland and offers Lidl’s hundreds of thousands of weekly customers the opportunity to remove unwanted recyclable packaging at the point of purchase for recycling in-store.

Latest statistics* indicate Northern Ireland’s councils collected 230,942 tonnes of local authority collected municipal waste between October and December 2018; the majority of which consisted of household waste (89.6%), equating to 276 kg of waste per household. The household waste recycling rate was 47.7%.

“The introduction of in-store recycling stations for our customers is another big step on our journey to tackle important sustainability issues,” said Deirdre Ryan, head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Lidl. “Lidl is proud to be a sustainability champion and has implemented a number of initiatives to reduce the amount of recyclable materials associated with our products and set ambitious targets for the future.

“This checkout recycling station initiative will further reduce the amount of recyclable materials taken out of store and provides our customers with a convenient drop off point for unwanted recyclable packaging.

“We’re proud to be leading the Northern Irish retail sector in implementing sustainable initiatives that benefit our environment, our communities and our customers. This scheme will result in tonnes of plastic, cardboard and other materials being recycled across our store network and aligns with our goals and targets set out in our sustainability strategy, A better tomorrow.”

Ricky Burnett, acting chief executive of arc21, said: “We warmly welcome this latest initiative by Lidl which offers their customers the opportunity to shed some packaging at the point of purchase. As government considers introducing detailed measures to make producers more responsible for packaging, this is a proactive and visible demonstration towards embracing this principle.

“For each of the last 18 years, householders and councils have incrementally increased recycling rates to the extent we are now just below 50% for Northern Ireland.  It is important that all aspects of modern society contribute to sustaining such improvements and initiatives like this can help to ensure that by next year, Northern Ireland is recycling more than half of the municipal waste it produces.”

The launch of the scheme follows a successful trial of checkout recycling stations within the Republic of Ireland and has now rolled out across Lidl’s 199 stores across Ireland and Northern Ireland.

This move is one of many steps that Lidl is taking as part of its plastic reduction strategy. Last year, Lidl discontinued the sale of single-use plastic items in favour of biodegradable alternatives, saving 2.75 million straws, 1.8 million plastic plates and cups and 75.1 million individual cotton buds.

Lidl has also committed to several ambitious plastic reduction targets, including using 20% less plastic packaging by 2022 and having 100% recyclable own-brand packaging by 2025. For the second consecutive year the company confirmed it had achieved ‘zero waste to landfill’ and announced an end to microbeads in all cosmetic and household ranges.

*Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. Northern Ireland local authority collected municipal waste management statistics October to December 2018 quarterly report. April 2019. Available at: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/northern-ireland-local-authority-collected-municipal-waste-management-statistics-october-december-2018.

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