One billion pieces of plastic packaging from products in its United Kingdom’s stores has been pledged to be removed by the end of 2020 by the UK’s largest retailer, Tesco. The aim of this move is to reduce its environmental footprint burden and adhere ot increasing consumer demands for reduction of waste.
After the airing of the very popular documentary called Blue Planet II by scientist David Attenborough – a documentary that focused on the dangers and the resultant environmental degradation and threat to marine life because of plastic waste, there has been a significant increase in the awareness about the harmful aspects of plastic use in Britain.
An intention to completely remove hard-to-recycle materials from its business was expressed by Tesco last year. The hardest-to-recycle materials will be removed from its own-brand products by the end of this year, the company said on Friday. That equates to elimination of more than 4,000 tonnes of materials from 800 of its product lines and Tesco said that it is working closely with its suppliers to achieve this.
The small plastic bags usually used to pack loose fruit, vegetables and bakery items would b completely removed and will be replace them with paper ones, said Tesco which currently has 3,787 stores in the UK and Ireland and an employee strength of 340,000 people.
The company has also pledged to remove plastic from a number of other items such as plastic trays from its array of ready meals, secondary lids on products such as cream, yoghurts and cereals, and spoons, forks and straws that are usually stacked inside snack pots and drinks cartons. Tesco also plans to eliminate about 200 million pieces of plastic that are used for packaging of clothing and greeting cards sold at its stores.
Tesco will give the greatest importance to the least use of plastic in products while deciding on which products gets to shelves of its stores, the company has reportedly informed its more than 1,500 suppliers. Those products that use excessive or hard-to-recycle materials could also not be stocked by the company, Tesco has told its suppliers.
“Our work to remove, reduce, reuse & recycle is already transforming our packaging,” said Chief Executive Dave Lewis. “By focusing on solutions that we can apply across all our UK stores and supply chain, we can make a significant difference and achieve real scale in our efforts to tackle plastic,” he said.
The introduction of a 5 pence charge for each plastic bag has helped in the reduction of use of such bags in the UK in recent years. A “latte levy” on disposable coffee cups that are very difficult to recycle is also being contemplated by the UK government.
A pledge to reduce plastic packaging by 50 per cent by 2025 was made by UK’s second-largest supermarket, Sainsbury’s, last month and has promised to use alternative materials and refillable options for the plastic packaging materials.
(Adapted from AlJazeera.com)