Behind 4 Rs, Tesco vows to remove one billion pieces of plastic by next year

Tesco store front

Remove. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. 

Tesco has announced a new goal based on those '4 Rs" ... to remove one billion pieces of plastic from products for sale in UK stores by the end of 2020. 

Our work to remove, reduce, reuse and recycle is already transforming our packaging," Tesco CEO Dave Lewis said. "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.”  

Tesco will remove non-recyclable and excess packaging from its business. Where it can’t be removed (for example where it prevents food waste), Tesco says it will work with suppliers to reduce it to an absolute minimum. The retailer will explore new opportunities to reuse its packaging and ensure that anything left is completely recycled.

Tesco's strategy includes 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

After meeting with 1,500 suppliers in August, Tesco told them it reserves the right to no longer stock products that use excessive or hard-to-recycle materials.

Tesco has stopped offering carrier bags with online deliveries – a decision that will stop 250 million bags being produced every year. 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. 

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