Our approach to managing waste from our UK operations

Last updated: 22/01/2020

Our approach

As a food business, our long-term success depends on the health of the natural environment. We are signatories of Courtauld 2025, a voluntary agreement that brings together organisations across the food system to make food and drink production and consumption more sustainable. Through this agreement, we are committed to helping cut the waste and greenhouse gas emissions associated with food and drink by at least one-fifth per person by 2025.

As part of this commitment, we are working to reduce the waste from our own operations and maximise reuse and recycling.

The waste hierarchy below forms the basis of many of our waste management approaches. We are always looking for ways to minimise our waste going to incineration and move to reducing and reusing where possible.

Since 2009 no waste from Tesco has gone direct to landfill.

UK operations

To help to manage our waste, we encourage segregation of waste in our UK operations. We engage colleagues through an accessible Waste & Recycling operating procedures as well as through training materials. We are currently updating these materials to include product end-of-life procedures which will improve segregation.

We recycle both waste cardboard and plastic. A good example of our waste management in practice is with our waste plastic. Plastic from our stores or distribution centres is sorted and bailed by type before being sent for final processing. The vast majority of the shrink wrap we use in distribution ultimately becomes our single use carrier bags and bags for life. Overall 80% of the content of our plastic carrier bags is made with our own waste material.

General waste is sent for energy recovery through incineration or Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF). Additionally, any waste fats and oils are sent to be made into biofuels.

By actively managing our waste, Tesco minimises its environmental impact. We have implemented policies and processes (guided by the Waste Hierarchy) and endeavour to ensure any materials capable of being recycled are. The final resort is to send material for incineration. We continue to look for further opportunities to improve our environmental impact.

See below total waste figures for the UK 







Total waste generated (tonnes)






Total waste reused, recycled or sent for energy recovery (tonnes)






Total waste disposed of (landfill or incineration without energy recovery)






Recycling in our UK stores

As well as taking actions in our own operation, we also want to help make it as easy for customers to recycle and waste less.

To help our customers recycle, we have recycle stations in many of our stores. Along with batteries you can also recycle water filter cartridges, energy saving light bulbs and non-commercial ink cartridges all in one convenient location. Look out for these stations behind the tills in selected stores around the UK.

Car park recycling facilities

Tesco run recycling sites at selected stores, providing a mix of recycling offers including Glass, Cardboard, Mixed Cans and Plastic Bottles. On additional sites, Tesco works in partnership with local councils to offer recycling opportunities to our customers. Tesco also work in partnership with carefully selected Charity Partners to offer Textile and Shoe recycling at over 600 sites.

Recycling your batteries

Tesco is part of a compliance scheme and offers battery-recycling points at Express, Metro, Superstore, and Extra stores. In 2020, 566.57 tons of batteries were collected in Tesco stores.

You can recycle all household batteries at our recycling points, including AAA, AA, C , D, 9 volt, button and those from appliances such as mobile phones, laptops, hearing aids, watches, cameras, cordless power tools, electric toothbrushes, razors, toys, burglar alarms, and hand-held vacuum cleaners.

Lead acid batteries from cars are not suitable for instore recycling points.

Recycling electrical equipment

You can take old electrical equipment (anything from TVs and DVD players to power tools and electrical toys) back to participating civic amenity (waste) sites run by your local council. 

Tesco has joined together with other leading UK electrical retailers to provide funding to help local councils to provide these facilities. You can find your nearest one by entering your postcode at Recycle More website or by calling the Tesco customer services helpline on 0800 505 555.

We are also members of the ‘Distributor Take Back’ scheme, financially contributing toward the provision of the electrical (WEEE) collection facilities by Local Authorities at recycling centres.

For more information contact our corporate responsibility team - cr.enquiries@uk.tesco.com