Campaign with Günther Jauch: criticism of the Lidl recirculation bottle: "This is greenwashing and classic lobbying"

If a company hires Günther Jauch as an advertising figure, then the message must be really important to them.

Campaign with Günther Jauch: criticism of the Lidl recirculation bottle: "This is greenwashing and classic lobbying"

If a company hires Günther Jauch as an advertising figure, then the message must be really important to them. For a few days now, the popular moderator has been seen in Lidl advertisements, with a serious look promoting the discounter's "recycling bottle".

On a specially set up website and on YouTube, Jauch explains in detail the advantages of Lidl's own recycling system. "Lidl says this is one of the most ecological bottles. This one, of all things, a disposable plastic bottle," says Jauch in the campaign clip. To then add in show-with-the-mouse style: "Let's take a look behind the scenes." Walking through the Lidl cycle system, he explains how the PET bottles are pressed into small plastic cubes, so that far fewer truck trips are needed to transport them than crates full of glass bottles. "Because transport is one of the most important factors of a bottle from an ecological point of view," explains Jauch.

"For the love of nature" is Lidl's campaign. And the message is that "good one-way systems with a deposit can be just as climate-friendly as good reusable systems if they circulate the material and new bottles are made from old bottles," said Lidl board member Wolf Tiedemann when presenting the campaign earlier this week stressed.

To substantiate this, Lidl not only raises Jauch, but also a self-commissioned "eco-balance calculation" by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (Ifeu). According to this, the disposable PET bottles from Lidl perform surprisingly well in comparison to other reusable PET bottles and reusable glass bottles when it comes to the CO2 footprint.

However, some environmental experts are critical of Lidl's campaign. "That's greenwashing and classic lobbying," is the harsh verdict of Viola Wohlgemuth, recycling expert at Greenpeace. "I think it's pathetic that Günther Jauch is willing to do it."

The study is clearly politically motivated, says Wohlgemuth in an interview with the star. "The results are based on partly unrealistic assumptions and hide important aspects." She criticizes that the transport routes on which the invoices are based are not very realistic and are too cheap for Lidl. In addition, from the point of view of the Greenpeace expert, other ecological aspects such as the abrasion of microplastics are given too little attention in the study.

In addition, Wohlgemuth has doubts that Lidl's pet cycle is really as closed as claimed. In any case, the figures cannot be transferred to single-use plastic bottles in general: "75 percent of all PET bottles produced in Europe are not processed into new PET bottles at all, but migrate to other material flows such as for textiles and other packaging that is green paint with the word "recycling", says Wohlgemuth. "And new oil and gas will then be used to produce new PET bottles."

The German Environmental Aid is also critical of the Ifeu calculations. A highly optimized packaging system for non-returnable pet bottles, which Lidl has set up, is compared with the average packaging for the entire reusable market. "You're basically comparing apples to pears," says DUH expert Thomas Fischer to SWR. After all, as Fischer acknowledges, Lidl has actually made the plastic bottles lighter and is using recycled material for the new bottles. This saves CO2.

The Federal Environment Agency (UBA), which Stern also asked for an assessment of the Lidl system, takes a similar view. The Ifeu calculations showed that a recycling system like that of Lidl can lead to very good results in the ecological balance. "However, the system can only work as long as PET recyclates are fed in from other bottles in order to compensate for losses in the own cycle," says UBA packaging expert Gerhard Kotschik. "So part of the optimization is only possible because the loads from new material occur outside the system limits of the calculation." It is therefore "not possible with such a system alone to provide Germany's beverage supply".

The UBA also emphasizes that there is still considerable potential for improvement with reusable systems if the systems are consistently expanded. And that is exactly what the legislature intends to do. The declared goal of the EU is to significantly increase the proportion of reusable items, and the Federal Government has also committed itself to this.

And this is probably the reason for Lidl's PR offensive. According to the company, it has invested several hundred million in a functioning recycling system for one-way bottles and now has no interest in participating in a competing reusable system.

UBA expert Kotschik says that the discussion about the obligation to offer multiple bottles or quotas for multiple containers is not about banning one-way bottles. "The system can continue to generate its benefits." With a view to Lidl, he also says: "Due to the study or the campaign, we see no reason to deviate from our recommendation to give preference to reusable bottles from the region."

Greenpeace expert and Lidl critic Wohlgemuth sees it this way: "Instead of participating in real solutions such as reusable packaging for the flood of packaging in the stores, Lidl spends a lot of money on marketing to push the systems with which you make money yourself. " She points out that the Lidl mother Schwarz with the company's own environmental service provider Prezero is itself a player in waste management that turns over billions. Her conclusion: "The recyclable bottle is not a real reusable bottle. Instead of producing more and more disposable plastic bottles, Lidl should finally include real reusable bottles in their range and offer returnable glass bottles."