Lidl set to axe black plastic packaging for fruit and vegetables
A leading supermarket has announced plans to phase out black plastic packaging across its stores here.
And with Lidl confirming that the packaging, which cannot be recycled, will be scrapped from its entire fruit and vegetable range, other retailers are being urged to follow suit.
Green Party MLA Steven Agnew said it was "a great move" by the budget supermarket.
"Much of our fruit and vegetables doesn't need to be wrapped or packaged, certainly not in single-use plastic," he said.
"I look forward to other retailers following Lidl's lead and removing black plastic packaging.
"People want to recycle as much as possible and it's right that businesses and retailers make it as easy as possible to take the right choices."
Lidl will cease to use the black plastic packaging on fruit and vegetable products across all 196 stores in Northern Ireland and the Republic before Christmas.
More than 65 tonnes of waste will be avoided annually from fruit and veg alone.
The packaging, which is not recycled in Ireland or the UK because sorting systems cannot detect the carbon black pigment, will be scrapped from fresh fish products by February 2019, followed by fresh meat, poultry and cured meat ranges before August next year.
The supermarket is also scrapping the sale of single-use plastic items.
These include drinking straws, disposable plates, cups and cutlery, with plastic-stemmed cotton buds next on the list in the coming months. 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."
The move is one of many steps that the retailer is taking as part of its plastic reduction strategy.
Already this year the company said it had achieved 'zero waste to landfill' and announced a ban on microbeads in all cosmetic and household ranges.
It also published several ambitious plastic reduction targets, including using 20% less plastic packaging by 2022 and having 100% recyclable own-brand packaging by 2025.
Lidl Northern Ireland won the Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility award at the 2018 Belfast Telegraph Business Awards.