As part of its efforts to slash waste, Tesco will remove the plastic packaging traditionally found on products such as greetings cards and clothes

Tesco store

The move by Tesco follows a meeting with suppliers around plastic packaging (Credit: Flickr, Simon Haytack,

UK supermarket giant Tesco has pledged to remove one billion pieces of plastic from its packaging products by the end of 2020.

Based on its 4Rs strategy of remove, reduce, reuse and recycle, the company will ditch non-recyclable and excess packaging — with the retailer saying if packaging can’t be recycled, it will have no place at Tesco.

The retailer will also explore new opportunities for reuse of its packaging, ensuring anything that is left can be recycled as part of a closed-loop system.

Tesco CEO Dave Lewis said: “Our work to remove, reduce, reuse and 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.”


Removal of packaging from greeting cards will help Tesco reduce plastic use

In August, the retailer met with 1,500 suppliers to inform them packaging was going to form a key part of its decision-making process for what products it will stock.

As part of its drive to bring down the amount of plastic in its packaging, Tesco will remove small plastic bags used for loose fruit, vegetables and bakery items, as well as plastic trays from ready meals.

Tesco plastic packaging
Among its changes, Tesco will replace plastic bags for loose fruit, vegetables and bakery products with paper alternatives (Credit: Tesco)

The company will also end provision of plastic “sporks” and straws from snack pots, while also removing 200 million pieces of plastic used to pack clothing and greeting cards.

Charity World Wildlife Fund sustainable materials specialist UK 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.”


Move to remove plastic from stores a good starting point for Tesco, says charity

Tesco has already started to reduce its use of plastic in stores, with the firm removing carrier bags from online deliveries, which it says will prevent 250 million bags being produced every year.

Greenpeace UK head of ocean plastics campaign Louis Edge believes Tesco’s move is a good starting point.

She said: “Tesco is absolutely doing the right thing in looking to reduce the number of pieces of plastic packaging it produces.

“When supermarkets focus solely on reducing their packaging by weight, this can trigger a policy of light-weighting – meaning packaging gets thinner or smaller, but still exists as a throwaway item that can pollute our waterways and harm marine wildlife.

“Last year Tesco produced more than 18 billion pieces of plastic, so they’ve still got plenty of work to do, but this is a good start and we hope to see further reductions when it introduces its reusable packaging scheme for online orders in the new year.”