Lidl Slovakia is the general partner of BLF CSR Summit 2019. In 2017, the retail chain received the Via Bona Slovakia Award in the Great Employer category. Lidl is one of the few companies in Slovakia that publish their own CSR reports. If you come to the Old Market Hall on 12 November, you can see Lidl CEO Matúš Gála in a discussion titled The Circular Economy vs. Retail Chains. The company will also present its CSR strategy in regard to its product range and purchasing.
Companies in Slovakia need to realize what impact their activities have on the environment, as well as their employees, business partners, community, and surroundings. Lidl’s strategy is being a “good neighbor” everywhere the company operates, which is currently 137 stores in 90 cities and towns.
“We see it as a great commitment. We need long-term activities that are strategic and targeted. Therefore, we focus our help on supporting children and improving their health. This is one of the two areas that our CSR strategy focuses on, the other being the environment. We always aim for a comprehensive approach to these topics,” says Matúš Gála, CEO of Lidl Slovakia.
Children Are the Future
Children need active movement, but Slovakia lacks safe playgrounds. To address this problem, in 2016 Lidl launched the “Žihadielko” project and built 40 safe playgrounds for children. Lidl does not have a say in where they are built since the winners are selected in a vote by the inhabitants themselves.
According to the Ministry of Education, schools are in need of equipment. Since 2015, the retail chain has been supporting primary schools located near new Lidl stores through a project titled “Your Purchase = Great Help” (Váš nákup = veľká pomoc). Part of the profits made on opening day are donated to schools, allowing them to purchase teaching and sports equipment.
One in eleven children are born prematurely. Thanks to the Good Fairy Tales project, which has already gone through four editions, Lidl and its customers have donated sets of life-saving equipment worth a total of 3,500,000 euros to all Slovak hospitals that that allow mothers to give birth free of charge.
“I am proud that we are motivating people to get engaged by giving our customers the option to help their communities with their purchase or vote. The size of our customer base is incredible! Take a look the ‘Žihadielko’ playgrounds, for instance: after just four years, our customers have cast more than 11,000,000 votes. The Good Fairy Tales project saw more than 800,000 CDs sold in just the last two years,” lists Matúš Gála. “And let’s not forget our customers, who serve as ambassadors for our projects. They are marvelous people who help us make Slovakia a better place for life,” he adds.
Protecting the Environment Is a Must
Lidl is fully aware of its responsibility for the state of our environment. For its strategy of plastic reduction, the company has made a commitment to reduce the use of plastics by at least 20% by 2025 and achieve a 100% recyclability rate for the plastic packaging used for its private brands in the same time period.
“We are taking specific measures. Since last December, our stores no longer offer the thinnest plastic bags that used to cost 9 cents. We never gave them out for free and our customers had to pay for them ever since we entered the Slovak market. We are reducing the size of our packaging for washing gels, nuts, and dried fruits. For our most recent measure, we decided to reduce the weight of the PET bottles used for our private brands of non-alcoholic beverages,” explains Matúš Gála.
These measures from these last few months have enabled Lidl to reduce its production of plastic waste by almost 400 tons per year. To get a better idea of scale, it would take approximately 11,000 Slovaks to produce the same amount of plastic waste in a year.
CSR Isn’t PR
Lidl is one of the few Slovak companies that produce reports on their sustainable activities based on the GRI Standards – a set of global reporting standards that enable Lidl to efficiently compare its results with previous financial years, other countries where the company operates, as well as other companies in the retail sector. Lidl’s CSR report is not a PR message produced simply as a presentation of admirable statistics, but rather a management tool that helps the company improve continuously. The report is available at www.spolocenskazodpovednost.sk and it includes specific commitments that the company wants to fulfill by 2025. In regard to its range, for instance, Lidl aims to reduce the amount of added sugar and salt in the products sold under its own brands by 20%.
The key topics for this report were not chosen by Lidl itself, but rather by the company’s stakeholders – its employees (using a survey and workshops), its suppliers, the public (using a representative survey), as well as representatives of the non-profit sector, the media, and the government.
“We don’t just talk about corporate social responsibility – we act according to it on a daily basis. We want to show people that it’s possible, allowing us to find new possibilities and serve as inspiration for others,” concludes Matúš Gála.