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Packaging plays an important role in protecting products and reducing food waste. Packaging waste, particularly plastic, can be a significant environmental problem when not reused or recycled. Of the 7 billion tonnes of plastic waste generated globally so far, less than 10 per cent has been recycled.1 Currently, more than 11 million metric tonnes of plastic are flowing into the ocean each year.2 We have a responsibility together with our suppliers to help prevent environmental problems associated with plastic waste and we are committed to playing our part in promoting a closed loop system.

4R strategy

In order for the packaging of our own brand products to be sustainable and at the same time reflect the complexity of packaging issues on a global scale, we apply the same approach called 4R (derived from the English words Remove, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) in all our markets ). We always start with the process of checking whether all the components of the package really fulfill their role, or if they are redundant and it makes more sense to remove them. In line with this approach, we are taking steps to: 

  • remove product packaging where possible,
  • if they cannot be eliminated, reduce them to an absolute minimum,
  • reuse, and if that is not possible, then
  • to recycle all and thereby close the so-called recycling loop.

At Tesco we have all the packaging divided into groups according to how it can be recycled. For simplicity, we use the so-called traffic light - the division of all packaging materials by color - Green are preferred materials that are easily recyclable. Red are undesirable materials that we do not want to use in the packaging portfolio at all, because they are non-recyclable or difficult to recycle. Orange represents less recycled packaging, but there is not yet an adequate substitute for it to become green packaging, i.e. functional and fully and easily recyclable. As of 2020, all packaging from the red section has been removed within our private labels.

Specified targets:

By 2025all Tesco own branded products will have fully recyclable packaging. We have already managed to change the packaging to fully recyclable for three categories of products, namely household goods, here are almost 200 items, noodles, pasta, rice represent 90 items and fruits and vegetables.

Reuse of packaging in distribution

We also recycle our secondary packaging, which serves to protect goods in the supply chain. Secondary packaging includes both waste cardboard and plastic, in which our products are efficiently transported to our stores. We have been working with Euro Pool System since 2014, when we introduced reusable green crates to avoid the use of disposable shipping packaging.

The reusable crates are made to last approximately 7 years and are 100% recyclable. According to a calculation model commissioned by the organization SIM (Foundation for Reuse Systems) and developed by the German organization Fraunhofer Institute, thanks to the transition from single-use packaging to reusable crates. With this step, we saved 2,993 tons of CO2 emissions in 2021. A total of 8,859,739 crates were used.

Circular economy for carrier bags

Tesco LDPE plastic shopping bag and Tesco carrier bag (the cheapest one) are made from 100% recycled content and both of them are fully recyclable.

Reusing F&F hangers

By reusing F&F hangers instead of making new ones, we reduce the number of hangers that end up in landfills while saving 34% of the carbon emissions and 86% of the water from each hanger´s ecological footprint.

Since the start of the program in 2019, we have saved:

1,5 mil.

hangers F&F

56 ton

saved plastics that would otherwise probably end up in the trash

Backup of plastic bottles and cans

The introduction of a deposit system will help increase the rate of recycling in Slovakia and increase the quality of recycled material, from which bottles and cans can be made again. It will also make it possible to reduce the amount of freely thrown waste from plastic bottles and cans in nature. These packages are not useless and unusable waste, but on the contrary - they are valuable raw materials that can be reused for the production of other packages.

More information

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

SDG 12 Responsible consumption and production

The aim is to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. Our packaging strategy contributes to Target 12.5 with the work we are doing to create a system where packaging is treated as a valuable resource that can be used, reused, collected and recycled in a closed loop.

SDG 17 Partnership for the Goals

Partnership for the Goals recognises the importance of collaboration. Our Packaging strategy has been developed with the input, knowledge and expertise of our colleagues, suppliers and NGO partners and ongoing collaboration is critical to its success.