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Tesco’s Commitment to Sustainable Packaging

It appears that the Tesco supermarket chain is responding at last to pressure from consumers with regard to packaging. In a letter following recent customer feedback on this matter, Tesco’s ‘Customer Service Executive to the Board, Fiona Kitching wrote: ‘Our target is to ensure we never use more packaging than is needed and what we do use is from sustainable sources and goes on to be reused or recycled.’ She then listed the company’s ‘packaging commitments’.

  • Packaging will be fully recyclable by 2025

  • End use of hard to recycle materials from UK packaging by end of 2019

  • All paper and board used to be 100% sustainable by 2025

  • Halve packaging weight by 2025

The aim, writes Ms Kitching, is that all packaging Tesco considers as ‘serving a clear purpose’ becomes part of a ‘closed loop’, meaning it will not go to waste. She goes on to outline three ‘strategic priorities’ ;

  • Reduce and simplify the types of materials used in packaging so that less is used and packaging is easier for customers to recycle.

  • Help create an integrated collection system for packaging in the UK, including the set up of a cost-effective Deposit Return System.

  • Help customers recycle more with simple, clear and consistent information on packaging.

These aims and principles have already been tried out in selected stores and there has been some press coverage of this. In an article last year covering the announcement of this development, the Independent spoke to Friend of the Earth plastics campaigner Julian Kirby.

While agreeing that it put Tesco ‘ahead of the pack’ he added: “It’s clearly a good thing with respect to recyclability – there is a big problem with non-recyclable packaging being put on the market. What’s missing is the long-term vision – we need system change, and we need all stakeholders to step out of the comfort zone of thinking we can just recycle our way out of this. If we are going to end plastic pollution we need to phase out all but the most essential plastics.”

You can read about the trials at:

It’s conceivable that the very existence of huge supermarket chains such as Tesco may be part of the problem our human community must now face up to. So whilst it’s a good thing to be able to pass on the news that Tesco has been listening and responding to its customers, it has to be said that there’s still a lot of boxes we have to think our way out of yet.

(With thanks to Jane Shepherd and Jean Gilbert for passing on the communication from Tesco.)

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