Recovery and Recycling

We will support a circular economy by ensuring that packaging is designed to be used, re-used, collected and then recycled or repurposed so that we make efficient use of valuable resources and minimise environmental impact. Simplifying the materials we use in packaging is just the first step.  Next, we need to collect and recycle those materials back into packaging. This will take real partnership and innovation.  It is important for the whole industry to come together to maximise collection and sorting operations.

One critical element is the move to a national UK infrastructure for collection of waste. Currently local authorities each have different systems and collect different materials. This makes it confusing for the public, and complicated and costly for the recycling industry – often leading to good materials going to waste. We would welcome greater consistency in the materials being collected by local authorities. PRN (packaging recovery notes) reform is also a necessary part of the solution and we look forward to contributing to this process.

See how together we can create a closed loop for packaging.

How Tesco as a business are working together to create a closed loop on packaging

Carton recycling trial

Tesco has teamed up with Kellogg and ACE to trial carton recycling facilities in eleven stores. Cartons are commonly used to pack products such as fruit juice, soups, passata and custard yet only 68% of councils collect the packaging at kerbside. Inconsistency in the UK’s recycling infrastructure remains a problem and it is vital that the Government quickly implements its plans for collection across councils. In the meantime, Tesco will test new in-store recycling facilities for packaging such as cartons to improve recycling rates.

Makeup recycling in stores

We have been working with our suppliers to introduce facilities that help customers recycle hard to recycle pieces of packaging.

As a result, Maybelline will be introducing recycling make up collection points in 300 of our stores which will allow customers to return their empty cosmetics products.  All cosmetics products and all brands are welcome (except nail polish). The units will feature with our other recycling services at the front of store.

Soft plastics trial

We have collected 85 tonnes of soft plastic for recycling in ten of our stores in the Bristol and Swindon areas. It has been a success with customers who have returned much more plastic than expected. The material collected is helping us gain valuable insight into a number of innovative recycling solutions.

Reverse vending

We support the development of a cost-effective Deposit Return System (DRS). We have trialled in-store recycling machines for plastic bottles in the UK, which paid customers for every bottle returned. The trial took place at selected stores in Borehamwood, Swansea, Edinburgh, Manchester and Bar Hill. The machines paid 10p for bottles returned. We view DRS as only one aspect of the holistic approach that is required to achieve the goals of reducing waste and increasing recycling.

We have collected over a million pieces of packaging through our reverse vending machines. This means more than £100,000 worth of coupons have been given to customers. We collected up to 3000 bottles a day in some stores.