Tesco To Remove One Billion Pieces of Plastic By The End Of 2020

Tesco has announced last week that 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 will work with its suppliers to reduce it to an absolute minimum. The retailer will explore 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, it will have no place at Tesco.

To remove one billion pieces from Tesco private 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, yogurts, 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 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.

Tesco CEO Dave Lewis

Tesco CEO Dave Lewis 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.”

WWF UK’s Sustainable Materials Specialist, Paula Chin said: “Plastic pollution is the most visible symptom of the environmental crisis we’re currently facing. Businesses, governments, and households have all got an important part to play, so it’s good to see Tesco’s commitment to significantly reduce the amount of plastic we use.”

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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.