Tesco to cut huge plastic use by removing wrapping from multi-packs
24th January 2020
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Tesco aims to ditch 67 MILLION pieces of plastic by removing wrapping from packs of baked beans, tuna and soup… but promise shoppers they’ll still get the same discount for multi-buys

  • Tesco to remove plastic wrapping from multipacks including baked bean tins 
  • The supermarket chain’s move will cut 350 tons of plastic from the environment
  • Tesco boss Dave Lewis praised the Daily Mail’s campaign on plastic waste
  • He pledged to cut a billion pieces of plastic from own-brand goods by this year

Tesco is set to ditch 67 million pieces of plastic per year by removing the wrapping from all multipacks of tinned food.

The landmark move, which applies to cans of baked beans, tuna, soup and other products, will eliminate 350 tons of plastic from the environment.

And shoppers will not have to pay more for the items, which will be sold individually in Tesco’s 3,300 stores from March.

Chief executive Dave Lewis said: ‘We want to remove every single bit of plastic that is unnecessary from our stores.’

Chief executive Dave Lewis has pledged to remove one billion pieces of plastic from own-brand goods by this year. He is pictured above at a Tesco store holding the single tins

Praising this newspaper’s campaign on plastic waste, he added: ‘The Daily Mail has been hugely influential in raising the profile of this issue in the UK.’

Multipacks are popular with savvy shoppers as it typically works out cheaper than buying tins of food individually. On current prices, a multipack of four cans of Tesco baked beans is £1, while singles are 30p each.

However, customers will pay the same for canned foods if they buy multiple single cans as they did for a pack – thanks to permanent multi-buy discounts.

Tesco will be the first UK supermarket to remove the plastic from multipack food tins from all of its stores. Waitrose has conducted a trial in 17 shops.

Plastic wrapping has been scrapped from Tesco own-brand products as well as branded goods such as Heinz Beanz, Green Giant sweetcorn and Princes and John West tuna.

The landmark move, which applies to cans of baked beans, tuna, soup and other products, will eliminate 350 tons of plastic from the environment. And shoppers will not have to pay more for the items, which will be sold individually in Tesco’s 3,300 stores from March

But the move does not apply to cans of drink. Some beverage brands, such as Heineken and Coca-Cola, have promised to move from plastic to cardboard on their multipacks.

Abolishing plastic wraps on tinned foods was tried out at a Tesco Extra convenience store in Bar Hill, Cambridgeshire. The shop is used as a testing ground for environmental initiatives.

Mr Lewis said that initially, getting rid of the multipacks at the store caused a slight drop in sales. However, he said they soon bounced back.

‘When we first took the plastic away, people didn’t like the inconvenience too much,’ he said. 

‘But when we explain why, they understand. Customers think it is worth it to reduce plastics.’

The measure is being explained on banners in stores and in information by the relevant shelves.

Removing the packaging means it takes marginally longer to pick items off the shelf. 

Similarly, it adds a few seconds at the till as several tins need to be scanned. 

Mr Lewis – who is stepping down as chief executive of Tesco this year having rescued the retailer from the brink of ruin under previous management – has pledged to remove one billion pieces of plastic from own-brand goods by this year. 

‘We want to do something quite fundamental,’ he said.

He added that he hoped other supermarkets will follow suit. ‘If the whole industry were to follow, you will lose 2,000 tons of plastic,’ he said. 

Tesco’s initiative is being backed by the World Wildlife Fund, which is battling plastic pollution as it is killing off marine life.

A spokesman said: ‘If we want to protect nature we need more businesses to follow Tesco’s lead.’

Plastic wrapping has been scrapped from Tesco own-brand products as well as branded goods such as Heinz Beanz, above, Green Giant sweetcorn and Princes and John West tuna

Every little helps… and this will make a big difference

By Dave Lewis, Chief Executive of Tesco for the Daily Mail

Tinned multipacks are staples of the British kitchen. We sell 183,000 every day and whether they contain baked beans, soup, tuna or tomatoes, they are sold wrapped in a thin sheet of plastic. Not any more.

Today we’re announcing that we’re removing plastic-wrapped multipacks of tinned food from all Tesco stores across the UK from the beginning of March.

We’ll be replacing them with plastic-free multi-buys. It’s all part of our work to remove all unnecessary and non-recyclable plastic from Tesco.

At the start of 2018 we undertook the most far-reaching review of packaging ever done in our business. Since then we’ve removed more than 4,000 tons of materials from 800 products, including the hardest to recycle materials. Tesco Chief Executive Dave Lewis is pictured above

This announcement will see 67million pieces of plastic eliminated and remove 350 tons of plastic from the environment.

Four out of ten of our customers buy multipacks and this change will help them all use less plastic without having to pay more.

The tins will instead be available individually but with permanent multi-buy deals.

At the end of last year, Tesco committed to removing one billion pieces of plastic from our UK stores and this is one example of how we will meet this ambitious target.

At this stage we are removing plastic packaging from multipacks of tinned foods, not from other items such as canned drinks, but we are actively looking for opportunities all over the business for where we can cut unnecessary plastic and we will be taking more out.

At the start of 2018 we undertook the most far-reaching review of packaging ever done in our business.

Since then we’ve removed more than 4,000 tons of materials from 800 products, including the hardest to recycle materials. 

While we are the first UK supermarket to make this move on multipack plastic, by working with global suppliers – like Heinz and others – who supply many other retailers, we hope the changes will be adopted throughout the whole industry

And now we’re working hard to ensure all our packaging will be fully recyclable by 2025 globally – and sooner in the UK.

We have a 4 Rs approach to packaging. That stands for Remove, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. We’re removing all non-recyclable and excess packaging from Tesco. 

Where it can’t be removed, for example when it is necessary to prevent food damage and waste, we’ll reduce it to an absolute minimum. We’ll look at ways to reuse packaging and ensure that anything left is all recycled.

Since April last year we’ve been running a wide range of packaging trials at our Bar Hill Extra store in Cambridgeshire.

As part of this work, we gathered together a group of graduates in our business to add their ideas on a future for retail which has less plastic. They pointed to multipack wrap and asked, is it really needed? 

Many more of their ideas are in live trials today. I include this story as an example of how everyone in our business, at all levels, is focused on solving this issue.

Tinned multipacks are staples of the British kitchen. We sell 183,000 every day and whether they contain baked beans, soup, tuna or tomatoes, they are sold wrapped in a thin sheet of plastic. Not any more [File photo]

When we started the multipack trial, there was an initial dip in sales but it soon recovered as we tested new ways of communicating to customers what we were doing and why.

There are lots of small trials out there, but we look at what will work at scale – across all our stores and our supply chain – because then the potential for transformation is enormous.

Last summer, we briefed 1,500 suppliers that packaging will now be a factor in what we choose to sell in our stores. 

And while we are the first UK supermarket to make this move on multipack plastic, by working with global suppliers – like Heinz and others – who supply many other retailers, we hope the changes will be adopted throughout the whole industry.

The removal of plastic-wrapped multipacks is the first major rollout from our Bar Hill store trials and more will follow. 

It was in 1993 that Tesco introduced the famous ‘Every Little Helps’ slogan – before some of our graduates were even born! 

But in that spirit of Every Little Helps, we know even simple changes can make a big difference.

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