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About us

About us

RETHINK
PLASTIC

The Schwarz Group is one of the world’s leading retail companies, with around 12,000 stores in 30 countries, more than 400,000 employees and more than €100 billion in annual revenue.

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As a global player, the group that owns the Lidl and Kaufland brands has an obligation to protect the environment.

As a global player, the group that owns the Lidl and Kaufland brands has an obligation to protect the environment.

For many years, the Schwarz Group has been committed to collecting, sorting and recycling the reusable materials that are indispensable for transport and packaging in food retail. If we use plastic, we must be prepared to take responsibility for it.

Our vision: less plastic – closed loops!

FROM NECKARSULM
TO THE WORLD

The Schwarz Group prides itself on being a future-oriented company. In keeping with its status as a global innovator, the company from Neckarsulm was the first German retailer to set itself the task of drastically reducing the amount of plastic used in production and sales and promoting the circular economy. In-house expertise supports the strategy launched in 2018 to further this purpose.

The business division GreenCycle is responsible for the recycling within the Schwarz Group, while the PreZero brand disposes, sorts and processes reusable materials for external partners.
Branch purchasing managers define all the requirements for their brand’s products – including the packaging.

IF You STOP BEING BETTER, YOU STOP BEING GOOD.

From this excellent starting point, the Schwarz Group has been able to develop innovative sustainable practices and implement them quickly throughout the world.

Cutting-edge technology turns the waste of today into the resources of tomorrow. We hit the reset button on used raw materials and plastics, so they can be reused to close the loop. Hence the name of the strategy initiative: REset Plastic.

The extreme versatility of plastic makes it an indispensable part of the global economy. It is the only material we currently have that is simultaneously lightweight, impact resistant, flexible and temperature-stable. Because plastics come in different degrees of hardness, it is an exceptionally useful material for a range of purposes. Despite these advantages, there are also some disadvantages to plastic. Not all plastics are created equal.

Cutting-edge technology turns the waste of today into the resources of tomorrow. We hit the reset button on used raw materials and plastics, so they can be reused to close the loop. Hence the name of the strategy initiative: REset Plastic.

The extreme versatility of plastic makes it an indispensable part of the global economy. It is the only material we currently have that is simultaneously lightweight, impact resistant, flexible and temperature-stable. Because plastics come in different degrees of hardness, it is an exceptionally useful material for a range of purposes. Despite these advantages, there are also some disadvantages to plastic. Not all plastics are created equal.

PLASTIC AS
SOLUTION

Many innovations that have made important contributions to our society would have been unthinkable without plastic.

Medicine, for example, relies heavily on plastic-based tools; no modern form of transportation could exist without plastic; and plastic increases the availability and accessibility of food by extending its shelf life. Vacuum packaging keeps meat fresh three times longer, which in turn reduces food waste.

Sadly, too much food is wasted due to insufficient protection. Plastic packaging guarantees freshness and food safety and also makes it possible to transport goods safely and effectively.

Tinted film prevents goods from being damaged by light, enabling resource-efficient storage.

Because it is so good at preserving, plastic enables us to use resources more effectively when we grow, transport and package food. Consequently, plastic has an important role to play in sustainability and can have a positive impact on society.

Sadly, too much food is wasted due to insufficient protection. Plastic packaging guarantees freshness and food safety and also makes it possible to transport goods safely and effectively.

Tinted film prevents goods from being damaged by light, enabling resource-efficient storage.

Because it is so good at preserving, plastic enables us to use resources more effectively when we grow, transport and package food. Consequently, plastic has an important role to play in sustainability and can have a positive impact on society.

PLASTIC AS
PROBLEM

One of the properties that makes plastic so useful is also what causes environmental issues: its longevity.
It can take centuries for plastic to decompose, which makes it all the more devastating that products like disposable cutlery or straws are only used for a few minutes.
Much too often, plastic is just thoughtlessly thrown away.

Every year, more than eight million tons of plastic waste reach the oceans, where they break down into increasingly smaller particles. The resulting microplastic is dangerous not only for marine life, but for humans, who absorb it through the consumption of seafood – with health risks that are not yet fully understood.

With a truckload of plastic flowing into our oceans each minute, by 2050 we could see more plastic than fish swimming in the waters. We need to prevent this scenario.

HOPE IS NOT
ENOUGH

Though plastic products have only been a part of daily life for a few decades, we can no longer imagine life without it.

In 1950, we produced one million tons of plastic globally; today, we produce more than 370 million tons per year. Business, politics and society must come together to develop solutions to reduce, recycle, remove and responsibly handle plastic. This poses a significant challenge for us all, but it is a challenge that the Schwarz Group wholeheartedly embraces.

THE PATH TO
SUSTAINABLE THINKING

Conscious resource management is a serious concern for the Schwarz Group, directly and indirectly affecting many areas of the business. In addition to many sustainability activities around Lidl and Kaufland’s product range and supply chain, the company took early responsibility for its own waste.

With the establishment of the waste and recycling arm GreenCycle in 2009, the retail group set a precedent for the industry as a whole. The philosophy that waste is not trash, but unsorted reusable material, drives the entire company. This is a philosophy that serves economic interests as much as environmental ones.

OUR APPROACH TO
the PLASTIC ISSUE IS COMPREHENSIVE,
COLLECTIVE AND RESOURCEFUL.

REset PLASTIC – TODAY’S PLASTIC STRATEGY
FOR THE FUTURE

With the comprehensive international plastic strategy REset Plastic, the Schwarz Group is setting yet another milestone. As the highest-grossing retail group in Europe, it leverages its size and expertise to develop solutions for sustainable plastic management and to set global standards for resource conservation. One of the most important aspects of this is that the responsibility for reusable materials is never relinquished.

OUR GOAL IS
TO MAKE 100% OF OUR PRIVATE LABEL PACKAGING MAXIMUM RECYCLABLE
BY 2025.

OUR GOAL IS
TO USE UP TO 20% LESS PLASTIC
BY 2025.

OUR GOAL IS
TO MAKE 100% OF OUR PRIVATE LABEL PACKAGING
MAXIMUM RECYCLABLE
BY 2025.

OUR GOAL IS
TO USE UP TO 20% LESS PLASTIC
BY 2025.

Taking a holistic approach to resource management requires consistent, interdisciplinary cooperation, from research to production and implementation and from collection to recycling. As such, all divisions of the Schwarz Group are involved in REset Plastic: our own production plant Schwarz Produktion, our retailers Kaufland and Lidl, and the waste management and recycling professionals at GreenCycle and PreZero.

This teamwork-driven strategy is divided into five action areas:

REset PLASTIC AT LIDL AND KAUFLAND

Lidl
Kaufland
Countries of Europe

LEADING
THE WAY

In order to offer consumers excellent quality at low prices, daily operations at the Schwarz Group are process oriented and driven by simplicity.

At the same time, the company is always mindful of its social and environmental responsibility and prioritizes fair working and social conditions throughout the group and its supply chain. Additionally, the Schwarz Group has resolved to tackle the challenges of climate change, loss of biodiversity and the waste of natural resources.

THE ENVIRONMENT
RULES

Through energy-efficient technology, environmentally-conscious building design, climate-friendly logistic processes and consistent waste prevention, the group reduces its energy consumption, minimizes its CO2 emissions and preserves resources and natural habitats. The increasingly large selection of fair-trade, environmentally-friendly and regional products reflects the social engagement and sustainable principles of the Schwarz Group.
The REset Plastic strategy showcases these achievements and points the way forward.

THE POWER OF
COOPERATION

Recycling management is highly valued at the Schwarz Group. A dedicated division was established in 2009 to consolidate the required competencies. Since then, it has disposed of reusable materials from Lidl and Kaufland stores as well as the logistic centers.

In 2018, the Schwarz Group took over one of Germany’s largest recycling management companies. As a retail brand of GreenCycle, PreZero offers consultation, logistics, sorting and recycling for external companies. More than 3,000 additional employees in 80 locations, new vehicles and sorting plants strengthened the company’s market position in the waste management and recycling sector.

With Lidl and Kaufland, our production facilities and waste-management and recycling service providers GreenCycle and PreZero, we have the means of implementing effective initiatives like no other European retailer.

Gerd Chrzanowski
advisory board spokesperson, Schwarz Group

Logistics, sorting, processing and recycling under one roof – a unique feature of the Schwarz Group and a cornerstone of the REset Plastic strategy.

With its workforce, partner companies and stakeholders, the company develops sustainable solutions for all business sectors, thus contributing to the realization of a circular economy truly worthy of the name.

SHOW
INITIATIVE

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS.

In addition to its own sustainability management initiatives, the Schwarz Group is a member of the New Plastics Economy, an initiative of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The non-profit organization brings together a global network of companies at every point in the value chain – from manufacture to use to recycling – to work with governments and NGOs on developing innovative strategies and solutions to promote the circular economy in the plastics sector.

By signing the Global Commitment of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the Schwarz Group declared its dedication to take active steps to solve the plastic problem.

To further an active conversation between business and research, the Schwarz Group is always on the search for expertise along the entire value chain. Professional associations, research institutes or startups: new ideas and approaches to alternative material, efficient recycling or the avoidance of plastic waste are always welcome. Contact us by email

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS.

Established in 2018, the REset Plastic strategy is the next big step towards a world without waste. The Schwarz Group is resolutely pursuing its sustainable path. Further details and concrete examples can be found on the following pages.

REduce

REdesign
REcycle
REmove
REsearch