Tesco has launched the second phase of its war on plastic, after holding meetings with more than 1,500 suppliers to agree on new packaging design rules.
The supermarket announced in May 2018 that it would ban all packaging unsuitable for recycling from the end of this year, as it moves towards a ‘closed loop’ system.
The new phase of its Remove, Reduce, Reuse & Recycle plan has set out four steps to govern packaging design across all product categories.
It said its steps were: “Remove all non-recyclable and hard to recycle material, where we can’t remove, reduce it to an absolute minimum, including excess packaging, Explore new opportunities to reuse it and, if we can’t, ensure it is all recycled as part of a closed loop.”
Having announced its ambition in 2018 to remove hard-to-recycle materials, Tesco said it would have eliminated the hardest to recycle packaging from own brand products by the end of 2019, by removing more than 4,000 tonnes of materials from 8,000 lines.
Products banned include PVC, polystyrene, oxo-degradable materials, PLA (polylactic acid), water-soluble bioplastics and industrial compostable materials.
“In the first quarter of 2018 we audited all packaging materials in our business and set ourselves a challenge to remove all hard to recycle material by 2019,” said Tesco CEO Dave Lewis. “We’re on track for Tesco own brand and we’re working with branded suppliers to deliver the same.”
Writing in the Guardian today, Lewis announced Tesco had used its Cambridge Extra store as a trial store to test plastic reduction plans.
‘Customers are helping us understand how we can make it easier to use less packaging - from multi-buys for the same price as multipacks to a loose-only fruit & veg aisle. When we understand what changes work best, we’ll roll them out to all our 2,658 UK stores,’ he wrote.
’At scale, this will be transformational. We could remove 490 tonnes of plastic by scrapping multipack tins; 50 million plastic binders on beer cans, and 44 million sporks from our “on the go” food range.
‘The opportunity is huge. And we’re already well on the way in other areas. This month, we scrapped plastic bags with home delivery orders, removing 250 million bags a year.’
Lewis added: ‘We can’t overlook the fact that for too long, packaging on consumer goods has been excessive. We have all looked at the settled contents of a cereal packet and puzzled over the comparative size of the bag and box. Or opened a bag of crisps and wondered why the packaging is twice the size of the contents.’
Tesco also renewed its call today for the government to introduce a national collection and recycling infrastructure to deliver a closed loop for packaging.
“Without a national infrastructure, industry efforts to improve the recyclability of materials used in packaging will be a drop in the ocean. In January 2018, we called on the government to introduce this infrastructure and offered to help, including giving space in our car parks for recycling and testing the collection of materials not currently recycled by local councils. That invitation stands and the need for action has never been more pressing” said Lewis.