Tesco removes one billion pieces of plastic

Tesco has announced that it has removed one billion pieces of plastic from its UK business, including secondary lids from yoghurts and cream, and small plastic bags used to pack loose fruit.

This was made possible through the supermarket chain's '4Rs' packaging strategy: to remove plastic where it can, reduce where it can't, reuse more and recycle what's left.

The strategy has seen a business-wide programme of change that assesses every piece of packaging and removes all unnecessary and non-recyclable material.

Tesco's quality director, Sarah Bradbury, said: “Our own-label and branded suppliers have had a lot to contend with in 2020 so removing a billion pieces of plastic is fantastic progress. 

“Our work to remove, reduce, reuse and recycle will continue into 2021 – there is no place for unnecessary or non-recyclable packaging in our business.”

In early 2020, Tesco became the first UK retailer to remove plastic wrapped multipacks from its stores and sell loose cans at the same price, a change that has saved 67 million pieces of plastic annually. 

And in July last year, it launched an online shopping service with Loop that delivers groceries in reusable packaging throughout the country.

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

The retailer made it clear that it reserves the right to no longer stock products that use excessive packaging or hard to recycle materials.

“Businesses, governments and households have all got an important part to play, so it’s encouraging to see Tesco delivering against their commitments to significantly reduce the amount of plastic we use,” commented Paula Chin, sustainable materials specialist at the WWF.

“We look forward to welcoming further initiatives of this scale in 2021 and beyond.”

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