Lidl has confirmed it is removing black plastic packaging, which cannot be recycled, from its entire fruit and vegetable range across Republic of Ireland (ROI) and Northern Ireland (NI) stores before Christmas 2018. As a result, the company estimates that over 65 tonnes of black plastic waste will be avoided annually from fruit and vegetables alone.

In future, Lidl will also scrap this kind of waste from fresh fish products by February 2019, followed by fresh meat, poultry and cured meat ranges before August 2019. The retailer is also halting sale of single-use plastic items including drinking straws and plastic-stemmed cotton buds.

This is likely to play well with Irish shoppers, as 87% of NI and 85% of RoI consumers agree that supermarkets should do more to reduce packaging waste.

In recent years, Mintel has documented how many brands improve their image by incorporating more recyclable packaging and ethical means of production. This feeds into Mintel’s trend Rethink Plastic, which explores how although plastic is not inherently bad, our throwaway use of it is. Therefore, brands and consumers are reviewing their own behaviours to prevent plastic pollution. Irish companies are rethinking their production practices, and it is likely that 2019 will see more grocery retailers take the step to remove unrecyclable items from their shelves. Lidl has also pledged a number of plastic reduction targets, including using 20% less plastic packaging by 2022 and having 100% recyclable own-brand packaging by 2025.

Through education and practical initiatives, brands and retailers can empower consumers to be socially responsible and feel like they are incorporating more environmentally mindful behaviours in their everyday life.