Tesco to remove one billion pieces of plastic from products

Mark Johnson's picture
by Mark Johnson

UK supermarket brand Tesco has announced it plans to remove one billion pieces of plastic from products for sale in UK stores by the end of 2020 as a part of its 4Rs plan to tackle the use of plastics in its business. 

Tesco’s 4Rs strategy – Remove, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - means it will remove non-recyclable and excess packaging from its business. 

Working with suppliers

Where it can’t be removed, for example where it prevents food waste, Tesco said it will work with its suppliers to reduce it to an absolute minimum. 

The FTSE 100-listed retailer also said it will explore new opportunities to reuse its packaging and ensure that anything left is all recycled as part of a closed loop. 

If packaging can’t be recycled, it will have no place at Tesco, the group said.

To remove one billion pieces from Tesco own brand products by the end of 2020, Tesco will be removing:

  • small plastic bags, commonly used to pack loose fruit, vegetables and bakery items, and replacing them with paper ones
  • plastic trays from ready meals
  • secondary lids on products such as cream, yoghurts and cereals
  • sporks and straws from snack pots and drinks cartons
  • 200m pieces of plastic used to pack clothing and greetings cards

Cutting excessive packaging

In August, Tesco met with 1,500 suppliers to let them know that packaging will form a key part of its decision-making process which determines which products are sold in its stores. 

The retailer has worked with its suppliers, making clear that it reserves the right to no longer stock products that use excessive or hard to recycle materials.

Tesco has already stopped offering carrier bags with online deliveries – a decision which will stop 250 million bags being produced every year. 

“Our work to Remove, Reduce, Reuse & Recycle is already transforming our packaging”, Tesco CEO Dave Lewis said. 

“Over the next twelve months, we will remove one billion pieces of plastic, further reducing the environmental impact of the products we sell. 

“By focusing on solutions that we can apply across all our UK stores and supply chain, we can make a significant difference and achieve real scale in our efforts to tackle plastic.”  

WWF UK’s Sustainable Materials Specialist, Paula Chin said: “Plastic pollution is the most visible symptom of the environmental crisis we’re currently facing. 

“Businesses, governments and households have all got an important part to play, so it’s good to see Tesco’s commitment to significantly reduce the amount of plastic we use.”

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