Circular Systems

How We Conserve Resources

Our Mission:

We are resource efficient and embrace the circular economy

Around 87 % of the total waste

of the companies of Schwarz Group is recycled, reused, fermented, or composted (as of FY 2022)

From Bottle to Bottle

59,000 tons of new PET have been saved in 2022 with the PET bottles of Lidl and Kaufland's own-brands in Germany. These are made from 100 percent recycled PET (excluding lids and labels). More on this in the progress report.

René Witter | Schwarz Produktion

Conserving Resources: Our Response for the Circular Economy

Handling raw materials conscientiously, protecting valuable resources and actively combating climate change – these are some of the things that drive us as companies of Schwarz Group. That is why the circular economy is centrally anchored in our corporate strategy. Our own actions within the corporate group are always our top priority in this regard. Throughout the entire supply and value chain, we work on using resources efficiently, reducing waste and making a functioning circular economy a reality. What is special about this? We cover practically every step within our own corporate group. Of course, the customers of our retail divisions also play a vital role here. With the aim of relieving the burden on the environment, we raise their awareness of the importance of waste reduction, recycling and food waste, just as we do for our own employees.

Little Material, Great Responsibility

Even though packaging is important for protecting food and keeping it fresh, it also requires a lot of resources. As companies of Schwarz Group, we strive to reduce the amount of material used in packaging and to increase its recyclability. A constant focus: reducing plastic. With that in mind, we are targeting the correct use of recyclable material through our jointly developed plastics strategy REset Plastic.

Steffen Schott | PreZero

Our Measures to Protect Resources

Abfüllung der Kreislaufflasche

Pioneers of PET Circular Systems

Disposable PET beverage bottles are ideal for recycling. Collect, sort, recycle, refill: The companies of Schwarz Group cover every step in the recycling loop. Schwarz Produktion has set up a cutting-edge circular system with three internal plastic and recycling plants for this very purpose. The result: Excluding the cap and label, every disposable PET deposit bottle produced internally for the Lidl and Kaufland own brands has been manufactured from 100 percent recycled plastic since June 2021. This saves valuable resources and reduces our ecological footprint.

Eine Biene bestäubt eine Blüte

Packaging That Grows Back

Is it possible to conserve resources with new natural materials? PreZero shows us how! Sustainable fiber and paper products made from the silphium plant are being developed under the OutNature trademark. The plant is grown regionally in Germany, so it offers the benefits of short transport routes. The treatment process for the plant fibers does not consume much water or energy and requires no chemicals. Since 2021, this innovative packaging has been produced for Lidl and Kaufland, for example in the fruit and vegetables area. OutNature is a real revolution for the paper and packaging industry, with silphium fibers constituting a brand-new raw material made in Germany. And an award winner! The trademark received the “German Innovation Award” and Gold in the “German Design Award” in 2022.

Abbildung einiger Rezyklatprodukte

Turning Old Into New

We are rethinking plastic! Together with PreZero, Lidl and Kaufland offer promotional own-brand household goods with plastic components made from up to 100 percent recycled material. From the recyclable material to the finished product, the companies of Schwarz Group cover a large part of the process themselves. PreZero collects private plastic packaging waste and sorts, cleans and processes it into recyclate. The products made from this recyclate get to radiate splendor anew, whether as toys, laundry containers or storage boxes. In addition to the Lidl and Kaufland promotions, we also use recyclates for our transport packaging and to produce furnishings for our stores – for instance, as crash rails or grass pavers, letting us save resources and carbon in practice!


The Recyclables of Tomorrow

Around three million tons of waste are generated each year by the companies of Schwarz Group. It is often possible to make something from this waste. Today´s waste is tomorrow´s recyclable material: Up to 87 percent can be reused. However, incorrectly separating the waste leads to contamination and makes the waste impossible to reuse. With that in mind, we have been holding group-wide campaigns since 2019 where employees collect waste and are made aware of the importance of correct waste separation on “World Cleanup Day”. Our retail divisions also provide updated information about waste separation and recycling on an ongoing basis. The goal is to create something new from waste – one such example is our internally produced roof sheeting, which is used to seal the roofs in some Lidl and Kaufland stores. The roof sheeting is made from 60 percent film waste from the locations.

Foto des Projekts BRIC

Significantly Reducing the Use of Plastics

A huge plastic carpet floats in our oceans. In the meantime, its remnants have been detected in marine animals and human embryos. It is time to act: The companies of Schwarz Group have jointly developed the “REset Plastic” plastics strategy, which includes a variety of different measures to help achieve our jointly developed goals. We are reducing the amount of plastic in our packaging, designing this with recyclables and keeping valuable reusable materials in circulation. That means less plastic waste is released into the environment, oceans and bodies of water. The companies of Schwarz Group are also involved in projects and collaborations to remove plastic waste from the natural world. For instance, we have been taking part in the Cleanup Day since 2020; this year was our fourth time!

Highlights of Our Packaging Strategy at a Glance

REset Plastic goals

Less (Food) Waste

We protect the environment by conscientiously handling food and preventing waste. We do so through tangible measures: By the end of 2025, the companies of Schwarz Group will reuse, recycle, or recover a significant percentage of the waste we generate. By 2030, we want to halve the amount of food waste we produce. That will enable the sustainable use of resources throughout our entire value chain.

Our Measures on the Road to Zero Waste

Zwei Mitarbeiter bei der Müllentsorgung

Zero Waste Standards for Our Environment

As a corporate group, we take a systematic approach to conserving resources. For instance, the DIN SPEC 91436 for sustainable waste and recyclables management is setting completely new standards. PreZero has worked with other experts to develop this industry standard and has started to implement it in the Group. The aims: to reduce all avoidable waste to zero, minimize residual waste, conserve natural resources, maximize recycling and continuously refine the waste and recyclables management system. These are all ways for the companies of Schwarz Group to promote the circular economy approach.

Die Spieler des TSG Hoffenheims laufen ins Stadium

Sustainability in Soccer?

Through long-term partnerships with FC Bayern Munich, RB Leipzig and TSG Hoffenheim, PreZero is driving sustainable transformation in soccer. The focus is on measures that let companies and clubs assume responsibility together – for instance, by closing recycling loops and improving recycling rates in the world of soccer. For instance, PreZero optimizes waste management in stadiums, launches returnable cup systems and raises awareness of resource conservation among fans through campaigns at the grounds and online. And this has been successful: PreZero has worked with TSG Hoffenheim to make its stadium the first zero-waste arena in the German Bundesliga! These campaigns transform club stadiums into real role models for companies and municipalities. 1:0 to the environment.

Deutsche Trennhinweise

Waste Separation Works – Collective Action!

Correctly separated waste is the key to successful recycling. However, sorting plants are less accurate than sorting at home, so everyone’s individual contribution counts!

PreZero and Kaufland are members of and active participants in the “Mülltrennung wirkt!” (Waste separation works!) initiative. The two companies provide advertising space on collection and transport vehicles, place posters in stores and have radio spots with information about the correct disposal of packaging and residual waste. To make it easier to separate the waste, separation and disposal instructions can also be found on the packaging of Lidl and Kaufland own brands.

Highlights on the Road to Zero Waste at a Glance

70,3 % Recycling Rate

of internal waste (as of FY 2022)

28 % Less Plastic

in own-brand packaging and transport aids (compared to 2017; as of FY 22)

Combating Food Waste Together

Food production requires valuable resources. That is why the commitment to combat food waste is particularly important to us. One third of all the food produced worldwide currently goes to waste – because not everything that is produced is sold, or because food that is still edible is thrown away because its expiry date has passed. The retail trade is responsible for 7 percent of this figure. We do not want to accept this. Our jointly agreed goal: to halve the amount of food waste by 2030. 

Our Measures to Reduce Food Waste

A store employee hands over a box full of groceries

You Can Still Eat That

The retail divisions of Schwarz Group are raising awareness of using food sustainably. Products that are no longer fit for sale but are still edible are passed on to not-for-profit organizations such as the Tafel food banks. Lidl and Kaufland are also highlighting the issue of food waste to their customers throughout Germany. As part of the “Oft länger gut" (Often good for longer) initiative from “Too Good To Go”, they encourage consumers to use their senses to assess the shelf life of food for themselves. In addition, the "Ich bin noch gut" (I’m still good) label offers food at a reduced price shortly before its best-before date.

Lebensmittel werden an einen Mitarbeiter der Diakonie abgegeben

From Waste to Resource

Despite the commitment to combating waste, food sometimes still has to be written off in the retail divisions, for example if the packaging of a product is damaged, yoghurt is about to expire or a cucumber breaks. If these products are no longer suitable for donation, they will be used for other purposes. We always endeavor to recycle food sensibly in order to minimize waste and protect the environment.

In Germany and a number of other countries, some of the food waste is recycled in biogas plants. Some more of it ends up as fertilizer on the fields or animal feed in the trough. Thus, the waste contributes to the production of new food products.