By working with its suppliers, Tesco managed to permanently remove 1 billion plastic parts from its UK stores in 2020.
Customers of Britain’s largest supermarket chain now see much less plastic when shopping, including the fact that there is no more shrink wrap on multi-pack of soups, corn and other canned items, including Heinz baked beans. .
Shoppers no longer see secondary caps on products like yogurts and cream. There are no small plastic bags available to pack loose vegetables, cakes and fruits; there is no unnecessary plastic in Christmas products like cookies, and no more plastic covers on unlabeled and branded greeting cards from companies like Hallmark; This latest move alone is already preventing 44 million pieces of plastic from being used per year.
Tesco’s decision to remove 1 billion pieces of plastic from its packaging is part of a broader strategy to address plastics through its ‘4R packaging strategy’: eliminate where you can, reduce where you can’t, reuse more and recycle what’s left.
The strategy has seen a company-wide change program that evaluates every piece of packaging and removes all unnecessary and non-recyclable material.
Tesco Quality Director Sarah Bradbury said in a statement: “Our private label and brand suppliers have had a lot to deal with in 2020, so eliminating a billion pieces of plastic is fantastic progress. Our work to eliminate, reduce, reuse and recycle will continue in 2021; there is no place for unnecessary or non-recyclable packaging in our business.
Paula Chin, a specialist in sustainable materials at the World Wildlife Fund, praised Tesco’s measures to reduce plastic parts in its stores, saying: “Plastic pollution continues to be one of the most visible symptoms of the environmental crisis we are currently facing.
“Businesses, governments and households have an important role to play, so it is encouraging to see Tesco meeting its commitments to significantly reduce the amount of plastic we use.”
Last year, Tesco met with 1,500 suppliers to inform them that packaging will be a key part of their decision-making process determining which products are sold in stores, and the retailer made it clear that it reserves the right to stop storing products that use excessive packaging or materials that are difficult to recycle.
The company reports that, since launching the 4R strategy in August 2019, and in addition to eliminating 1 billion plastic parts, Tesco has reduced the size of its annual packaging footprint by 3,480 tonnes.
Tesco has also made great strides in improving the recyclability of its packaging. Since it asked suppliers to use a defined list of easy-to-recycle materials and formats in 2018, it has removed more than 11,000 tonnes of the most difficult-to-recycle materials. That is good news.
(WATCH Tesco’s video on their move to ditch plastics below).
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