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Lidl trials return scheme after DRS delay

Published:  08 February, 2024

Discounter Lidl has launched its own return scheme for PET plastic and aluminium drinks containers, eight months after the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) was delayed by the Scottish government.

The retailer is rolling out the scheme across 21 of its Glasgow stores, with shoppers receiving 5p for every empty returned to spend in-store. There is no limit to the number of returns a customer can make and PET empties from other retailers are also eligible.

The German-based firm had already set up the infrastructure ahead of the launch of the DRS, initially scheduled for August 2023. However, the scheme has been delayed until October 2025 after the UK government overruled plans for the scheme to include glass.

According to industry body British Glass, including glass in the scheme would have “increased the carbon emissions in our atmosphere by two million tonnes”, increased plastic consumption, and split glass food and beverage packaging into two waste streams.

Similar schemes that have included glass around Europe have resulted in an increase in the use of single plastics due to the added cost of manufacturing glass for this type of scheme.

Unlike the proposed DRS in Scotland, Lidl will not charge shoppers a deposit on single-use drink containers. The discounter predicts a minimum of 10.5 tonnes of PET will be recycled each month. 

Richard Bourns, chief commercial officer at Lidl GB, said: “We’re on a mission to eliminate all unnecessary waste, and with over 95% of our own-brand packaging now recyclable, reusable or refillable we’ve been making great progress. 

“We know that Lidl shoppers share this passion and we hope that utilising this infrastructure, which might otherwise have been left dormant, will help to make recycling their cans and bottles even more convenient for them. With our extra incentive thrown in, and no cap on the number of items that can be recycled, it’s a win-win for all.”