Tesco loose produce

Tesco’s plans will include a major increase in the sale of loose or unpackaged products such as fresh fruit & veg

Tesco has told suppliers they need to move three times as fast in removing plastic from shelves, in a move which will see a huge shift towards reusable products and loose fruit & veg at the UK’s biggest supermarket.

The retailer held a meeting with its suppliers yesterday and set a target of removing plastic from a total of five billion products sold by 2025.

That represents a huge acceleration of its ‘4Rs’ (remove, reduce, reuse, recycle) strategy, which in February it said had removed 1.6 billion pieces of plastic across 1,500 different lines since it launched in 2019.

Tesco said it was urging suppliers to “accelerate progress” and to “go further and faster in removing plastic” where alternatives were possible.

It said the focus of the plans would concentrate on areas that can make the greatest difference at scale, including a major increase in the sale of loose or unpackaged products such as fresh fruit & veg as well as a big upscaling of the use of concentrates and reusable and refillable packaging.

Tesco has warned suppliers it reserves the right to delist products that fail to comply with its move on plastic, which has seen the retailer produce a list of preferred material and formats and a raft of “red” materials which it is phasing out.

The move is also expected to see a major expansion of Tesco’s partnership with Loop, under which it has been trialling a range of food, drink, household and beauty products in reusable packaging.

Tesco’s move is likely to be seen as a major milestone in the war on plastic considering its size and impact on the supply chain. In February, The Grocer revealed how supermarkets were to begin selling the vast majority of fresh fruit & veg loose within three years.

Wrap unveiled a list of 24 products, including apples, bananas, broccoli and cucumbers, which will be the first to see packaging scrapped under sweeping changes to shelves, which it predicts will save over 21,500 tonnes of plastic waste per year.

“We’ve already made progress to minimise the environmental impact of our packaging, but we know there is more we can do with suppliers on the issue of plastic waste,” said Tesco group quality director Sarah Bradbury.

“We’re bringing suppliers together to work solutions because we are determined to go further and accelerate our progress, with a focus on the areas of greatest impact.

“We’re really grateful for the support and partnership of our suppliers on this important agenda, and we look forward to sharing more detail on our packaging strategy in the months ahead.”