Tesco sets out aspiration for ‘closed loop’ packaging system - calls on government to support with national recycling infrastructure

Today Tesco announced its ambitions for a closed loop system across its UK operations.

Talking to hundreds of suppliers at an Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) event today Tesco pledged to:

  • Remove, reduce and redesign packaging materials and their use
  • Improve recovery and recycling, ideally working with government on a national recycling infrastructure
  • Work to raise awareness and educate in order to change customer behaviour

For this closed loop to become a reality, Tesco called on government to establish a consistent recycling infrastructure across the UK where variations in current levels of actual recycling are extreme.

Speaking at the event, Jason Tarry, Chief Product Officer said: 

“We are committed to reducing the total amount of packaging used across our business. Ideally we would like to move to a closed loop system. 

“We will work with our suppliers to redesign and reduce all packaging materials and after consultation with our leading suppliers earlier this year we will remove all packaging that is hard to recycle from our business by 2019.

“To complete the journey to a closed loop approach, we stand ready to work with government to reform the current approach to recycling in the UK.

As a part of its plan Tesco will also work to develop easy to understand packaging recycling communication and the amount of recycled materials it buys to help shoppers who want to reduce their packaging impact.

Notes to editors

Tesco today briefed suppliers that it will remove hard to recycle materials including PVC, Polystyrene, Oxy degradable materials, PLA (Polylactic acid), Water soluble bio plastics (eg Plantic) and Industrial compostable. 

It is also consulting on other materials to develop a closed loop solution or remove from the business. These include. Home compostable (including Cellulose and Natureflex), Oriented polypropylene, Black plastic, Polypropylene (for certain food applications) and Complex laminates.

Materials it will support include: Sustainably sourced Wood, board, paper & Glassine, PET (Polyethylene terephthalate), Glass, Polypropylene (non food), HDPE & LDPE, Polyethylene (preferred material for flexible film), Steel and Aluminium.   

In October 2017 Tesco published its original packaging targets in its Little Helps Plan.  These are: 

  • All packaging in Tesco will be fully recyclable or compostable
  • All paper and board will be 100% sustainable
  • We will halve our packaging weight (against a 2007 baseline)

Other relevant packaging facts:

  • Since 2007, Tesco has reduced packaging weight by 37 per cent.
  • The avoidance of polystyrene from fish packaging, taking 653 tonnes of plastic out of the supply chain.
  • 700 million single-use carrier bags removed and move to ‘Bags for Life’ made from 94% recycled plastic in 2017.

Tesco supports a cost-effective national Deposit and Return Scheme as part of a holistic approach to reducing waste and increasing recycling and closing the loop.


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