Our Position on Packaging
As part of our Little Helps plan, we have made the following commitments:
- Making all packaging fully recyclable or compostable by 2025
- Ensuring that all paper and board used will be 100% sustainable by 2025
- Halving packaging weight by 2025 compared to 2007 levels
Our aspirations go further than these targets, and we would like to work in partnership with Government and all of our suppliers to create a closed loop system for packaging.
Across the UK in particular, we see three steps:
1. Materials and design: In collaboration with our suppliers we can reduce and simplify the types of materials we use in our packaging so that less packaging is used and packaging is easier to recycle. We have reviewed every material used in our Own Brand packaging and as a result of our review and consultation process with our suppliers, we have developed a preferred material list for our product packaging.
2. Recovery/recycling: This is one area we need greater innovation and there is opportunity for significant government leadership.
Currently, the inconsistencies in infrastructure and recycling activities between councils make consumer education and closed loop systems impossible to build. We would welcome the creation of an integrated national collection of packaging and investment in innovative recycling facilities. This is essential to a holistic approach to packaging recycling. PRN reform is also a necessary part of the solution and we look to contributing to this process.
We do support developing a cost-effective Deposit Return System (DRS) and are currently working with a number of partners to scope a project to explore how this can operate in practice and at scale. We view DRS as only one aspect of the holistic approach that is required to achieve the broader goals of reducing waste and increasing recycling in the UK.
3. Changing customer behaviour: Behaviour change can only be driven once a recognised and understood recycling infrastructure is in place. Getting this right will support consumer education and practice (failure to do so will lead to frustration for customers and a low take up rate on recycling).
Helping individuals to make the right choices can start with simple, clear and consistent information on packaging supported by other media. We can use marketing and promotions to encourage recycling, use of own containers, and choice of packaging purchase.
These steps will build on the progress we’ve made in recent years. The examples below are just some of the ways we have been working with suppliers to reduce packaging in the last 12 months. Overall, over 87% of the packaging on all our own brand products is recyclable depending on if the local authority collect it.
Tesco are signatories of the UK Plastics Pact which brings together businesses from across the entire plastics value chain. Members and partners are at the forefront of generating a fundamental change in the way we design, produce, use, re-use, dispose and reprocess plastics. The Tesco Head of Packaging sits on the Plastics Pact advisory board.
Fully recyclable salad bags
Our organic bagged prepared salads are now made from Polyethylene (Polythene). PE film can be recycled into our 10p bags for life that are made from 94% recycled plastic. Recycled PE can also make long-life products such as park benches, bollards and waste bins.
PE film is similar to the plastic found in carrier bags and can be recycled in the same way. We’ll encourage our customers to bring the PE film bags to our larger stores to be recycled. Customers can also take the salad bags to anywhere that collects plastic carrier bags.
Innovative new way to re-use plastic packaging
We’ve resurfaced one of our store car parks using the equivalent weight of 225,000 plastic carrier bags, saving over 900kgs of plastic from going to landfill or incineration. We’re always looking for new ways to re-use waste plastics and reduce carbon. The Tesco Extra Cuckoo Bridge, Dumfries was resurfaced using waste plastics that would have been destined for landfill or incineration.
The result is an asphalt performance that has not been compromised. By using the waste plastic the equivalent weight in fossil fuels has also been saved from extraction. The carbon footprint has also been reduced by over a tonne (1,044kg).