In March, Lidl will become the first UK supermarket to launch new packaging using “ocean-bound plastic”, plastic that would have otherwise ended up in the ocean, collected from beaches and coastline around South East Asia.

According to Lidl, between 80 and 90% of the plastic packaging that reaches the ocean enters from coastlines in developing regions such as South East Asia. The company reports that this initiative will initially prevent more than 60 tonnes of plastic from being introduced to the ocean per year – the equivalent of 2.5 million plastic water bottles.

The packaging has been developed in partnership with Copernus, Sharpak and Bantam Materials and is made from 80% recycled content and a minimum of 30% of the weight of the tray is made up of ocean-bound plastic.

Lidl will initially roll out the packaging from 30th March across fresh fish products in partnership with supplier Copernus, representing more than 50% of the discounter’s fish lines and including white fish and salmon. The discounter plans to roll out the packaging across its entire fresh fish range in 2020 and is exploring other uses for the packaging across other product lines.

Lidl says that it has also improved the recyclability of the packaging, which will apparently divert over 200 tonnes from landfill with a new recyclable tray. This packaging will now be labelled with ‘Widely Recyclable’, in line with On Pack Recycling Label (OPRL) guidelines, meaning the majority of customers can recycle at kerbside.

This new packaging forms part of the discounter’s initiatives to ensure 50% of packaging is made from recycled materials by 2025, reduce plastic by 20% by 2022, and make 100% of its own-brand packaging widely recyclable, reusable or refillable by 2025.

Lidl GB’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Georgina Hall, commented: “By 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, according to data from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The majority of ocean plastic enters the sea from ten main entry points, eight of which are in Asia. Countries like those in South East Asia lack the waste management infrastructure to manage this problem, which is often overwhelmed by population growth or tourism.

“We are proud to be the first UK supermarket introducing packaging incorporating plastic that would have otherwise ended up in the ocean, helping to tackle the problem directly as part of our commitment to prevent plastics ending up as waste. We are actively looking to extend this innovative solution to other product lines to help reduce the amount of plastic ending up in our oceans and keep our environments healthy.”