Remove, Reuse, Reduce, Recycle

At Tesco, we’re taking action to:

  • Remove all non-recyclable and hard to recycle materials;
  • Where we can’t remove, reduce it to an absolute minimum;
  • Explore new opportunities to reuse it, and if we can’t, then;
  • Ensure it is all recycled as part of a closed loop.

In 2018 we said we would remove all hard to recycle plastics from packaging by the end of the year. This has now successfully been achieved for Tesco brand products and we’re working with brands to do the same. And we’re not finished there, by the end of 2020 we will remove a billion pieces of packaging from our business.

Next, we’re tackling excess packaging. This year, we will assess the size and suitability of packaging as part of ranging decisions. Reviewing the packaging of every single product creates a huge opportunity. For example, using 23% less packaging on just one line of multi-buy crisps removes 5,000 tonnes of packaging and 50,000 road miles. Similarly, removing croissant packaging means 41,000 fewer plastic packs per week.

Change at scale and pace could be transformational. But to close the loop on packaging, so it can be used, reused and collected continuously, we need a national collection and recycling infrastructure.

We’re ready to play our part. By working together, we can make a difference.


We first published a preferred material list in 2018 and have since removed all of the hardest to recycle materials from our Own Brand packaging. This has seen Tesco remove more than 10,000 tonnes of the hardest to recycle materials from over 1000 products. We’re now working with brands to do the same and we’re not stopping there, by the end of 2020 we will remove a further billion pieces of plastic from our UK business. Everything from ready meal trays, to the small plastic bags used for fruit and veg, to sporks and straws are set to go.

In September, we scrapped plastic bags with home delivery orders removing 250 million bags per year.

In our Bar Hill store, we are testing new ideas. The scaled impact could be transformational. Successful trials have already seen Tesco become the first UK retailer to remove all the plastic wrapped around multipacks from its stores. This will see 67 million multipacks of tinned tuna, soup, beans and tomatoes per year, sold without plastic wrap every year.


We can’t overlook the fact that for too long, packaging on consumer goods has been excessive.

In August, we met with 1,500 suppliers to let them know that packaging will form a key part of our decision-making process which determines which products are sold in stores. We have worked with our suppliers, making clear that we reserve the right to no longer stock products that use excessive or hard to recycle materials.

An exhaustive piece of work is underway with suppliers to make sure we use a little packaging as possible.


We have teamed up with Loop, specialists in refillable and reusable packaging to launch an online shopping service that delivers products only in reusable packaging. Starting online, customers will be able to order 150 products including sauces, cereals and washing detergents in packaging that can be reused, rather than recycle the packaging. Each piece of packaging will be used many times so the service can help customers cut down on plastic and other single use materials.

This builds on the success of other initiatives such as ‘bring your own container’ and ‘reusable cup’ at counters and in our cafes.

Find out more information here.


We’re changing our packaging to support a closed loop. This means using as much recycled content as possible and using materials that are easy to recycle.

We’re also exploring new technologies to make sure things like film lids and pouches can be recycled. It’s been hugely popular, we’ve collected 50 tonnes of plastic for recycling so far.

To close the loop so packaging can used, re-used, collected and recycled continuously, we need a national collection and recycling infrastructure. We called on the Government to introduce this in January 2018 and offered to help by giving space in our car parks and testing the collection of materials not recycled by local councils.