Tesco has announced a series of measures to reduce packaging waste, and has committed to work towards a closed loop system across its UK operations.
Speaking to the Institute of Grocery Distribution, chief product officer Jason Tarry said the supermarket chain would remove, reduce and redesign packaging materials, improve recovery and recycling and work to change customer behaviour.
The company also called on the Government to help it by establishing a consistent national recycling infrastructure in place of the current variations, which it condemned as “extreme”.
Tarry 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. After consultation with our leading suppliers earlier this year, we will remove all packaging that is hard to recycle from our business by 2019.”
It will remove from its operations PVC, polystyrene, oxydegradable materials, polylactic acid, water-soluble bioplastics and industrial compostables.
The consultation will then cover how to either develop a closed loop or remove from its business home compostables, black plastic, food sector polypropylene and complex laminates.
Under its packaging targets published in October 2017, Tesco is already committed to all packaging being fully recyclable or compostable, to 100% sustainable paper and board and halving its packaging weight against a 2007 baseline.
The company will also develop simpler information for customers about recycling, including the amount of recycled materials it buys.
The supermarket is one of the signatories to WRAP’s Plastics Pact, launched last month.
Recycling Association chief executive Simon Ellin:
“This is fantastic news from Tesco and we hope that other supermarkets go down the same route. Tesco’s decision to help make recycling simpler for its customers is a vital step to change consumer behaviour and improve recycling in the UK.
“A big part of our ’Quality First’ campaign has been about encouraging retailers, manufacturers and other stakeholders to design packaging that is easy to recycle, and that is exactly what Tesco intends to do by banning those materials that are difficult to recycle and focusing on those that are the core recyclable materials.
“We also agree with Tesco that labelling needs to be simple to understand, and we then need the collection infrastructure to be consistent too, with all local authorities collecting these core materials. The Recycling Association believes that Tesco’s aim of creating a closed loop system is a great idea. This will lead to more recycled material being used. We will be happy to work with Tesco and the Government to develop the infrastructure and communications necessary to make recycling work better for everyone.
“If other supermarkets follow the lead of Tesco, and the Government responds to its suggestions, then very soon we will have a closed loop recycling system that works for the public, works for the recycling sector, and works for the retailers and manufacturers, too. Well done Tesco.”