Retail giant Tesco pledges to eliminate 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 vow to eliminate 1 billion bits of plastic by end of next year
Last Friday, Britain’s biggest retailer Tesco announced it will 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. Where it can’t be removed, for example where it prevents food waste, Tesco say they will work with suppliers to “reduce it to an absolute minimum”. The retailer is exploring 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, the company say it will have no place at Tesco.
“Over the next twelve months, we will remove one billion pieces of plastic,” — Tesco CEO
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
In August, Tesco met with 1500 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 says it 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.
In a statement issued Friday, Dave Lewis, the CEO of Tesco, said:
“Our work to Remove, Reduce, Reuse & Recycle is already transforming our packaging. 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.”
Last year, Tesco completed the most comprehensive review of packaging held in its business.
Since announcing its ambition in 2018 to remove hard-to-recycle materials, Tesco will have eliminated the hardest to recycle materials from own brand products by the end of 2019, by removing over 4,000 tonnes of materials from 800 lines. The company say they are also working with branded suppliers on this.
In January 2018, Tesco called on the government to introduce a UK national infrastructure for recycling and offered to help, including giving space in their car parks for recycling and testing the collection of materials not currently recycled by local councils.
A “good start” but still plenty to do
However, The Independent reported Louise Edge, head of Greenpeace UK’s ocean plastics campaign, as saying “Last year Tesco produced more than 18 billion pieces of plastic, so they’ve still got plenty of work to do, but this is a good start and we hope to see further reductions when it introduces its reusable packaging scheme for online orders in the New Year,”
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