Tesco becomes first major UK retailer to ban plastic wet-wipes
28 February 2022
A new move to scrap all baby wipes containing plastic will be made by Tesco from March 14.
The supermarket, which is the UK’s biggest seller of baby wipes, will no longer sell branded baby wipes containing plastic.
As Tesco stopped using plastic in its own label baby wipes two years ago the entire range will now be plastic-free.
The move is significant as Tesco sells more than 75 million packs or 4.8 billion individual baby wipes each year.
It’s not just baby wipes that have been reformulated by the supermarket, all branded and own-label wipes in UK stores – bar one - are now plastic free.
Plastic-free wipes include moist toilet tissue and general cleaning wipes. There is only one type of wipe available at Tesco that contains plastic, a pet wipe, which will be plastic-free by the end of the year.
Tesco started to make its own-label wet wipes plastic-free in 2020 and has since been switching to bio-degradable viscose as it breaks down far quicker.
Tesco Group Quality Director Sarah Bradbury said:
“We have worked hard to remove plastic from our wipes as we know how long they take to break down.”
“There is no need for wet wipes to contain plastic so from now on we will no longer stock them if they do.”
In addition to being plastic-free, Tesco’s moist toilet tissue wipes are certified and labelled as ‘fine to flush’. Non-flushable wipes stocked by the supermarket are clearly labelled as ‘do not flush’.
This comes as a part of Tesco’s 4Rs packaging strategy to tackle the impact of plastic waste. This means Tesco removes plastic where it can, reduces where it can't, looks at ways to reuse more and recycle what's left.
Since the strategy started in August 2019, Tesco has reduced its packaging by 6000 tonnes, including the removal of 1.5bn pieces of plastic. It has also launched a reusable packaging trial with Loop and launched soft plastic collection points in over 900 stores.
Notes to editors:
The 4Rs are underpinned by an industry leading Red/Amber/Green list of Preferred Materials and Formats. The list is based on UK recycling capabilities, infrastructure and end of life outcomes. It is a simple demonstration of the packaging types Tesco want to use.
Tesco has pressed suppliers to remove all ‘red’ materials and refused to stock new products that contain ‘red’ materials, as customers cannot easily recycle them in the UK.
Since the launch of the 4Rs strategy in August 2019, Tesco has reduced the size of its annual packaging footprint by more than 6,000 tonnes, including 1.5bn pieces of plastic. Fruit juices, crisps and cheese are all now being produced using less plastic.
Tesco has redesigned over 2000 tonnes of packaging to improve recyclability and has doubled the amount of recycled content in its own label plastic packaging.
To lead customers and industry toward reusable alternatives, Tesco launched reusable packed products with Loop in ten stores. The in-store launch followed a year-long online pilot that allowed customers to order and return products in reusable packaging to and from their doorstep.