Tesco is to remove one billion pieces of plastic from products by the end of 2020 as it seeks to reduce its environmental impact, the UK’s biggest retailer has announced.
The supermarket will swap small plastic bags, commonly used to pack loose fruit, vegetables and bakery items, for paper ones.
It will also scrap plastic trays from ready meals and secondary lids on products such as cream and yoghurt. Sporks and straws will also disappear from snack pots and drinks cartons along with 200 million wrappers used to pack clothing and greetings cards.
Where non-recyclable and excess packaging cannot be removed, for example where it prevents food waste, the retailer has pledged to reduce it to an absolute minimum.
It is also looking at new ways to reuse its packaging, stating that ‘if packaging can’t be recycled, it will have no place at Tesco’.
Bosses met with 1,500 suppliers in August to announce they would reserve the right to axe items that use excessive or hard-to-recycle materials.
Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said: ‘Our work to ‘Remove, Reduce, Reuse & Recycle’ is already transforming our packaging. ‘Over the next 12 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.’
The announcement is the latest by retailers undergoing large-scale targeting of packaging waste. In September, Sainsbury’s pledged to halve the amount of plastic used in its stores by 2025.