Filled returnable bottles in production on a conveyor belt Filled returnable bottles in production on a conveyor belt

Circular Systems

How the companies of Schwarz Group contribute to a functioning circular economy

The companies of Schwarz Group think in loops to consistently avoid waste in the future and use it to make recyclable materials for tomorrow, while drastically minimizing food waste. We, the companies of Schwarz Group, cover the entire value cycle from Schwarz Produktion and retail to disposal and recycling:  We embrace the circular economy and are resource efficient.


As part of their joint sustainability strategy, the companies of Schwarz Group have made a specific commitment
to the issues of waste avoidance and food waste, and set themselves the following targets:


Zero waste
By the end of 2025, the companies of Schwarz Group will reuse, recycle or recover a significant percentage of the waste generated in the company.1 Companies in pilot countries will strive to limit their non-recoverable waste2 to a maximum of 5 percent by the end of 2022.


Food waste
The companies of Schwarz Group will reduce food waste by 50 percent2 by the end of 2030.3 In the supply chain, food waste will be reduced for selected raw materials.

1 Excluding communal waste.

2 Compared with the base year 2018 for the retail divisions.

3 In our own production, we will cut food waste by 50 percent (solid food) and 25 percent(beverages) by 2025 (compared with the base year 2017; in relation to material quantity sales).

Plastics strategy REset Plastic

The responsible use of materials and packaging is also an important factor for the companies of Schwarz Group in creating a value chain that conserves resources. Packaging materials are essential for the retail divisions, particularly to keep food fresh and protect it during transport. At the same time, we need resources and energy to manufacture packaging. The Schwarz Group companies’ goal is to use as little material as possible and to feed the materials used back into the production cycles. Here there is particular focus on plastic as a recyclable material, as it is key packaging material for food retail, and whoever brings plastic into circulation, also bears responsibility for its further use. Accordingly, the companies of Schwarz Group have been committed to the collection, sorting, and recycling of recyclable materials for several years now. In general, they pay attention to environmental criteria for the packaging and transport aids of their own brands as well as for consumables in the stores, logistics centers, production sites, and administration. This includes recyclability, the proportion of recycled material, and the general saving of resources. As part of the REset Plastic strategy, the companies of Schwarz Group jointly set themselves targets that they want to achieve by 2025.


REset Plastic goals

Waste and recycling management throughout the recycling loop

The CEO of Schwarz Produktion Jörg Aldenkott
“Whether it is drinks, ice cream or nuts, it is not just the content that counts, but also the packaging. Before you can assess how environmentally friendly a piece of packaging is, you need to consider its full life cycle. We, in beverage production, rely on disposable PET bottles with high recycled content and low weight. As a result, we only transport our water in Germany over short distances. Our bottles are light, hygienic, and safe – and the environment wins as well. After the bottles are returned to stores, they are pretreated in our recycling plants and then processed into new bottles. In this way, everyone can work together to contribute to conserving resources and protecting the climate.”

– Jörg Aldenkott, Chairman Schwarz Produktion

Schwarz Produktion is responsible for recycling disposable PET bottles from the deposit system. In 2021, around 4,000 total employees in the Schwarz Produktion companies manufactured high-quality food for the retail divisions Lidl and Kaufland. Three plastic and recycling plants are also key components of an integrated PET recycling loop. As a pioneer in implementing a recycling loop for disposable PET deposit bottles in Germany, Schwarz Produktion has already beaten an ambitious path regarding the circular economy and developed an approach for a modern circular economy. Today, all stages of the recycling loop are covered by the companies of Schwarz Group: collection of deposit bottles, sorting, recycling, manufacturing of new PET bottles, filling, and sales. During the reporting period, the recycling loop of the companies of Schwarz Group concerned was extensively developed. Since June 2021, all disposable PET deposit bottles produced by Schwarz Produktion for Lidl and Kaufland private label products in Germany are made of 100 percent recycled plastic (rPET), excluding the cap and label.


PreZero CEO Thomas Kyriakis in conversation
“Waste is just recyclable material that is in the wrong place – this fact is our mission at PreZero. A large share of worldwide waste is not dispoed right or reused properly – and that is a huge problem for the environment. This is why we focus on a closed loop, which starts by having a completely reusable product from retail and disposal up to sustainable recycling and reprocessing into new products. Our goal: zero resource waste across our entire value chain.”

– Thomas Kyriakis, Chairman PreZero

As the internationally active environmental division of the Schwarz Group, PreZero is responsible for comprehensive services in the area of waste and recycling management throughout the recycling loop – both for external customers and within the Schwarz Group companies.

Pursuant to its assignment, the PreZero division takes care of the internal waste and recycling management for the retail divisions Lidl and Kaufland, and Schwarz Produktion.

Around 87 percent of all waste in the companies of Schwarz Group is recycled, reused, fermented or composted. This equals 2.578.382 tons (FY 2021).

Our measures

Please note: The words "we," "us," or "our," or similar, stand for all the companies of Schwarz Group.