Tesco to remove one billion pieces of plastics

UK supermarket Tesco plans to remove one billion pieces of plastic from products for sale in its UK stores by the end of 2020. The move is part of the company’s 4Rs strategy – Remove, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – to tackle the use of plastics in its business.

The strategy will focus on the removal of non-recyclable and excess plastics packaging. Tesco also intends to explore new opportunities to reuse its packaging and ensure that anything that is left is recycled as part of a closed loop system.

In practice, the company will remove small plastics bags, typically used to pack loose fruit, vegetables and bakery items, replacing them with paper packaging. Plastics trays from ready meals will also be removed.

In addition, Tesco will stop using secondary lids on products such as cream, yoghurts and cereals. Sporks and straws from snack pots and drinks cartons will be eliminated as will 200m pieces of plastic used to pack clothing and greetings cards.

Launched in 2018, the second phase of Tesco’s 4Rs strategy began in August with a commitment from Dave Lewis, Tesco Group’s chief executive. He warned that if a brand supplier’s plastics packaging is “excessive or inappropriate” Tesco would reserve the right not to list that product range.

“Our work to remove, reduce, reuse and recycle is already transforming our packaging,” Lewis explained. “Over the next 12 months, we will remove one billion pieces of plastics, 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 plastics.”

Meanwhile, Tesco has reported that it is on track to eliminate the hardest to recycle materials from its own brand products by the end of this year, by removing over 4,000 tonnes of materials from 800 lines.

The supermarket has also reiterated its call on the UK government to introduce a UK national infrastructure for recycling – offering space in its car parks for recycling and testing the collection of materials not currently recycled by local councils.