Lidl Ireland: Sustainability Strategy "A Better Tomorrow"
Business Type: Retail
Location: Lidl Ireland’s Head Office is based in Dublin, with 198 stores and 4 distribution centres throughout the island of Ireland.
Our vision is to make life better by providing quality food at market leading value, ensuring customer satisfaction is at the heart of everything we do.
Our mission is to deliver outstanding customer satisfaction.
We guarantee quality food through a rigorous product development and quality control process.
We ensure market leading value by constantly optimising our efficient process.
We work with business partners in sustainable relationships, contributing positively to local communities.
We achieve long term success by investing in the recruitment, training and development of exceptional talent.
No. of Employees: Approximately 5,000 employees.
Overview of CSR Initiative:
At Lidl, our sustainability philosophy is to provide a safe and nurturing environment for our colleagues, to be active and positive contributors to the communities in which we operate and to be good stewards of the environment. Our business challenge was to develop a comprehensive strategy to show our commitment to sustainability and win the buy-in from internal and external stakeholders. We also required a systematic approach for monitoring our progress towards our targets to ensure we could measure progress in our focus areas. Our strategy, ‘A better tomorrow’, comprises four core pillars; Responsible Sourcing, Protecting the Environment, Team Lidl and Lidl Community Works, focusing on the most material topics to our business and our stakeholders, and where we can have the greatest impact. It is a company-wide programme led by the Head of CSR.
Capital investment, employees and partners time is allotted to the CSR strategy.
Lidl operates 198 stores on the island of Ireland and ensuring standards around waste and energy are met or maintaining enthusiasm for fundraising efforts can be challenging. It requires constant reviewing, auditing and encouragement to ensure our sustainability objectives are met.
The benefits are wide reaching throughout the business. Internally it helps our engagement levels – with certain environmental programmes also saving us money. Externally it has built our reputation and positively influences communities in which we operate both in Ireland and further afield.
There have been numerous positive outcomes from the A Better Tomorrow strategy including achieving zero waste to landfill, 100% of our properties meeting the ISO 50001 Standard for energy management and over €400,000 funds raised for our charity partner Jigsaw. Being a food retailer, we manage to donate approximately 50,000 meals every month to over 300 charities and certification of nearly 20% of our listed range to social and environmental standards is very important for us such as UTZ, Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance (e.g 97% of cocoa). These are some highlights of our strategy, but it is our customer first approach and lean business model which enshrines more for the customer and the planet.
How was/is this initiative promoted?
We use an array of communication channels to promote the A Better Tomorrow strategy both internally and externally. These include an App (called the WeAreLidl App) available to all Lidl employees, in-store messaging, customer newsletter and producing a sustainability report. We also promote our charity partner Jigsaw and sponsorship support for the Ladies Gaelic Football through events as well as above and below the line advertising.
Do you report on CSR in the Annual Report?
We produce a bespoke CSR report.
Towards Responsible Business’ Ireland’s National Plan on CSR 2017-2020 identifies 4 core dimensions of CSR – Environment, Community, Workplace and Marketplace.
• Environment - minimising negative environmental impacts
• Community - interaction with your local community partners and organisations
• Workplace - supporting and engaging with your employees
• Marketplace - interaction with your local community partners and organisations.
Please select the dimension(s) that you apply to your CSR Initiative and why?
Protecting the Environment
As a business this will have numerous implications as we all shift towards a low carbon economy. We are focusing our efforts on energy efficiency, renewables and waste reduction across our operations.
In 2017, we placed even more focus on assessing and reducing our environmental impact by completing a carbon footprint analysis of our operations in conjunction with experts in the Carbon Trust. By analysing where we have the most impact as a business, we are able to create a targeted climate change strategy to reduce our environmental footprint and optimise our processes.
There is an inevitable environmental footprint involved in the construction and maintenance of our operations. We endeavour to mitigate these impacts by embedding sustainability in the design, construction and management of our stores and distribution centres – at Lidl, we expand with sustainability in mind.
All of our operations are certified to the ISO 50001 Energy Management Standard and we moved to sourcing green electricity in 2018. Another significant development for us is the integration of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and electric vehicle charging points in all our new builds and major refurbishment projects. We currently provide the largest network of electric vehicle chargers in the supermarket sector, enabling customers to charge their electric vehicles for free while they shop.
(Pictured Above: Gorey store with Solar Panels)
Our teams continuously measure logistical data for store deliveries, ensuring cost effective and efficient pallet planning for distribution. This requires close collaboration with our haulage suppliers. Delivery vehicles back-haul materials to our distribution centres for recycling purposes.
At Lidl, we are proud to boast an award-winning recycling and waste management programme. Our in-store and warehouse waste management concept is integral to our Zero Waste Commitment. We have also set ambitious target for plastic reductions and are installing recycling stations in-store if customers want to leave excess packaging after their purchases.
Lidl Community Works
Our objective is to be a good neighbour by positively contributing to the communities in which we live and work. We are continuously developing our community work, fundraising initiatives for charity partners, volunteering programme and local sourcing and employment opportunities.
We are delighted to partner with Jigsaw – the National Centre for Youth Mental Health. Through this partnership, we are pledging to raise €1 million over 3 years.
Not only are we aiming to raise funds to help Jigsaw expand their services, but we are also aiming to raise awareness of youth mental health across Ireland and encouraging all of our customers and colleagues to be One Good Adult to a young person in their lives by being there to listen, support and advise when times are tough.
Last year we implemented weekly “Autism Aware Quiet Evenings” in all stores to help people and families who may struggle with the weekly shop run. Between the bright lights, crowded spaces, noise and sensory overload, grocery shopping can sometimes be a very stressful task for people with autism. The “Autism Aware Quiet Evenings” provide a more sensory friendly environment with reduced lighted, noise and priority queuing.
At Lidl Ireland, we are extremely proud to continue to be the biggest supporter of women's sport in the country and have invested €3.5 million since the beginning of our partnership with the Ladies Gaelic Football (LGFA). When we partnered with the LGFA in 2016, we made a promise to elevate Ladies Gaelic Football to a new level and we feel we have delivered on that promise. We are part of communities all over Ireland and we are committed to supporting the organisation from the grassroots right up to county level.
Working in conjunction with FoodCloud, a social enterprise, we redistribute surplus food from our warehouses and stores to over 300 local charities. Our aim is to tackle food waste and contribute to our local communities to help those who need support.
To date, we have donated over 780,000 meals to charities all over the country and by 2020 our goal is to donate surplus food to Irish charities equating to over 1 million meals. Every month we donate 50,000 meals to over 300 charities across Ireland.
Our #WeAreLidl people strategy brings to life our philosophy that our colleagues are part of one team. Our strategy is focused on developing sustainable relationships by engaging leaders, implementing consistent and transparent two-way communication and prioritising employee wellbeing while positively contributing to business objectives.
‘Work Safe. Live Well.’ is the ethos of our health and wellbeing strategy. Designed to take a holistic view of employee health and wellness, the strategy focuses on 3 core areas; physical safety at work, physical and mental health, and financial wellbeing. Mental health is a critical aspect to our strategy with our partner charity Jigsaw, being the national centre for youth mental health in Ireland.
We have been working with Princes Trust in Northern Ireland under our ‘Get into Retail’ scheme and Business in the Community in Ireland with our ‘Ready for Work’ scheme to help disadvantaged and marginalised develop employability skills within retail- a project which has resulted in excellent business benefits for us.
We were also delighted to be the first major retailer in Ireland and Northern Ireland to commit to paying the increased living wage to each of our team members. The living wage is an independently assessed and measured rate of income considered necessary to meet basic needs such as housing, food, clothing, transport and healthcare – the cost of which is not always covered by the national minimum wage.
At Lidl, all employees are provided with the training and support they need to reach their full potential and to progress within the organisation. In fact, many of our managers successfully advanced their careers from starting positions in our stores. Structured, on-the-job training is the foundation of our training concept, giving our employees the opportunity for further development, both professionally and personally.
As a large grocery retailer, we strive for greater sustainability across our business through the sourcing of our products. We are fully committed to ensuring that our buying power is driving positive change for producers, communities and the environment as a whole, both in Ireland and further afield.
We take pride in building long-term relationships with our Irish suppliers, these home-grown partnerships provide long-term growth for both sides. Since entering the market in 2000, the proportion of our purchases from Irish suppliers has grown year-on-year. In the Republic of Ireland, we buy €700 million worth of goods annually from over 200 suppliers.
We also run a supplier development programme, Kick Start, developed in conjunction with Bord Bia, with the objective of giving small and medium sized Irish food and drink suppliers the chance to showcase their products in Lidl stores across the country. As part of the programme we invited each of our Kick Start suppliers to attend a series of seminars, led by our team of experts to talk about important topics such as quality control, packaging, marketing & PR building to help develop their businesses.
We offer a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables all year round, sourced to extremely high-quality standards. Our fruit and vegetable suppliers are either certified to the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme or Global Gap. 100% of our banana range now comes from farms certified to Fairtrade, Organic or Rainforest Alliance standards.
As a low-price grocery retailer, we are considered by some to be gatekeepers of the food system. With this comes responsibility for people’s health and we are committing to making our product range healthier and encouraging our customers to buy a basket that is good for them as well as good for their pocket. We will reduce the added sugar content in own brand products by 20% by the end of 2020 focusing primarily on foods that are popular with and consumed by children. Food categories such as breakfast cereals, spreads, sauces and sweet confectionery will be a major focus. We will be reviewing approximately 350 own brand products in order to reach this sugar target.
We will reduce the salt content of own-brand products in line with the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) 2017 salt targets by the end of 2020. The reduction of salt first focuses on food categories that are consumed on a regular basis and generally make up a large share of the daily salt intake including; ready meals, soups, pizzas, crisps, cakes and meat products. Over 500 of Lidl Ireland’s own brand products will be reviewed to reach this salt target.
Social and environmental programmes are a key way we can ensure sustainability in our supply chain. We have also committed to certifying our cocoa in all our own-brand products to Fairtrade, UTZ or Rainforest Alliance standards and/or certified as organic (current status is 97% certified). 100% of our own-brand black, green and Rooibos tea will be certified to Fairtrade, UTZ or Rainforest Alliance standards and/or certified as organic. By the end of 2020, 50% of our own-brand coffee will be certified to Fairtrade, UTZ or Rainforest Alliance standards and/or certified as organic. We also support the work of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) who have developed a set of environmental and social standards for the sustainable production of this commodity and the protection of worker’s rights. 100% of Palm Oil in our food products are already certified to RSPO on a mass balance basis and will soon be all segregated RSPO palm.
We are committed to sourcing 100% of our own-brand permanent chilled and frozen fish products, from independently certified sustainable fisheries by the end of 2019 (MSC or recognised Irish FIP’s for wild caught fish and ASC or GLOBAL G.A.P. Aquaculture Standard for farmed fish).
In addition, we have pledged to meet the goals of Greenpeace’s Detox commitment to eliminate the discharge of all hazardous chemicals from the whole lifecycle and all production procedures of apparel and footwear products no later than 2020.
How has the CSR initiative benefitted your business and demonstrated a win:win in the short-term and/or long-term?
Building our CSR strategy has resulted in numerous benefits for the business ranging from cost savings to increased engagement and brand recognition. Lidl’s work in creating a better tomorrow for the communities in which it operates in has been recognised and applauded externally, in 2018, Lidl was awarded the coveted ‘Outstanding Achievement in Corporate Social Responsibility’ at the Chambers Ireland CSR Awards, retained the award for Excellence in Environment and also won the Excellence in Community. Also, in 2018, the retailer picked up the ‘Green Retailer of the Year’ and ‘Excellence in Waste Management’ awards at the Green Awards 2018 as well as the ‘Business Recycling Champion’ at the 2017 Pakman Awards.
Some examples of key results include:
- Our Brand reputation has developed significantly since the launch of our CSR strategy- this is measured with our brand tracker as well as the Reptrak report.
- Internally participation with our programme has increased with an uptake in our volunteer days and fundraising events.
- Employee engagement – surveys demonstrated that CSR and our impact on local communities has improved significantly in recent years.
- Energy Efficiency – 50% decrease in Carbon emissions through sourcing 100% renewable electricity and achieving the ISO50001 energy management standard across all operations.
- Zero Waste to Landfill commitment – achieved for the second consecutive year.
- Charity Partner Jigsaw - Over €400,000 funds raised for Jigsaw the National Centre for Youth Mental Health. Awareness of Jigsaw has doubled since partnering in April 2018 and 43% of people who are aware of Jigsaw, heard about them through Lidl.
- Food Redistribution – donated over 780,000 meals to 300 charities all over the country. The initiative also reduces our food disposal costs and positively impacts employee engagement.
- #SeriousSupport - We are extremely proud to continue to be the biggest supporter of women's sport in the country after investing €3.5 million since the beginning of our partnership. With stores nationwide, we are part of communities all over Ireland and we are committed to supporting the organisation from the grassroots right up to county level. This brings Lidl into the conversation around sports in schools, builds our brand and helps deepen our connection with the local communities we support.
What did you learn from your experience of creating and implementing a CSR initiative?
At Lidl, we are suitably positioned with our lean business model designed for efficiency to develop our CSR strategy. We have a responsibility to the 2 million customers passing through our doors every week.
Change is a process which requires patience in any business but especially when operating on a larger scale. However, at certain times the pace of change has been remarkably swift and we can leverage our efficient processes for rolling out initiatives such as autism aware evenings across all of our stores.
A particularly bright idea may simply make business sense such as cutting out black plastic from our packaging. Taking that holistic view of the product life cycle and pairing the producer with the end user highlighted that although it may be recyclable, the facilities in most recycling centres in Ireland sort black plastic with landfill items. For our producer there is no additional economic costs by switching to a widely recycled transparent plastic observing real benefits for waste management.
Another learning is that although yes corporations are large entities, they are comprised of people. People who live in this world and want to breath clean air and eat food which nourishes them without depleting the planet. This human perspective helps put sustainability at the heart of Lidl’s business objectives as we continue to grow with a mindset for a better tomorrow.
What advice would you give a business starting on their CSR Journey?
Start measuring. It’s important in beginning any journey to first get a footing on where you are, to then anticipate where you’d like to go. Having data can help to speak the language of other departments and make the case for the ‘nice to have’ to become a ‘need to have’.
Our philosophy is to provide a safe and nurturing environment for our employees, to contribute positively to the communities in which we operate, and to be good stewards of the environment. Operating from this premise helps us assess and inform our strategy towards a better tomorrow.
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