Lidl has today announced plans to remove 9p plastic bags from all its stores in Wales by 1t May, after seeing that its 9p reusable bags were increasingly being used as single-use. Through the trial, the supermarket will evaluate the customer response to the move and its environmental impact.
The discounter, which removed all 5p plastic bags from sale in 2018, is now taking further action to help cut down on plastic waste, by removing its next tier, 9p reusable bags, from its 54 Welsh stores. The move, which is thought to be the first of its kind by a supermarket in the UK, is expected to prevent the sale of over 5 million bags and to save over 150 tonnes of plastic waste each year in Wales, increasing to over 80 million bags and approximately 2,500 tonnes of plastic waste if extended across Great Britain.
This announcement builds on Lidl GB’s strong track record on plastic reduction, to which the discounter has long been committed. Since opening the first store in Great Britain, Lidl has charged for plastic carrier bags, and took the additional step to remove all single-use carrier bags from sale in 2017, followed by all 5p reusable bags in 2018. This resulted in 26 million fewer plastic bags being sold annually. This forms part of Lidl’s overall commitment to reducing plastic packaging by 20% by 2022, and to making sure 100% of its own-brand packaging is widely recyclable, reusable, refillable or renewable by 2025.
Christian Härtnagel, CEO of Lidl GB, said: “We’re proud of our work at Lidl to reduce plastic across our stores, and particularly the steps we have taken over the years to reduce sales of plastic carrier bags. After seeing that our 9p reusable bag was increasingly being used as a single use option, we wanted to look at how we could mitigate this pattern. Through this trial, we will be able to fully assess the impact that removing our 9p plastic bags has in helping customers shift to a fully reusable option.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Wales was the first nation in the UK to bring in a charge on single use carrier bags and we are pleased that Lidl has chosen Wales as the location for an initiative which will help inform understanding of consumer behaviour and bag use. We will watch with close interest the effect of Lidl’s innovation and how this will encourage reuse.”
The supermarket will introduce new cotton and jute alternative bags into its range this summer and will still offer customers in Wales its 38p heavy duty bag and 65p freezer bag.