Business

Tesco to ditch plastic-wrap for multipack tins

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Media captionTesco chief executive on getting rid of multi-wrap plastic use

Tesco is removing plastic wrapping from its multipack tins in an effort to cut down on waste.

The supermarket giant says it will remove 350 tonnes of plastic a year from the environment.

Britain's biggest supermarket is working with the likes of Heinz and Green Giant to replace plastic-wrapped multipacks with multi-buy deals.

Tesco said the move was the first of its kind by a major UK retailer.

And environmental group Greenpeace welcomed the decision to get rid of what it called "pointless plastic".

The changes start on 2 March when Tesco will stop ordering more plastic-wrapped multipacks. Some items will remain on the shelves as Tesco sells remaining stocks.

More than 40% of Tesco customers buy tinned multipacks, with 183,000 sold across its stores every day. Multipacks of baked beans, tuna, tinned tomatoes and soup are among the most frequently-bought grocery items in the UK, it said.

"We are removing all unnecessary and non-recyclable plastic from Tesco," said Tesco chief executive, Dave Lewis.

Late last year Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Morrisons and Waitrose pledged to clear hard-to-recycle "black plastics" from shelves.

"While we know we have more to do, this initiative is good news for the environment," said Georgiana de Noronha, president of Kraft Heinz in Northern Europe.

Supermarkets have come under fire from environmental campaigners for the increasing use of single-use plastic, which rose 2% in 2018 to 903,000 tonnes, according to Greenpeace.

"It's great that Tesco are getting rid of multipack plastic packaging that's completely pointless and are also pressuring their branded suppliers like Heinz and Branston to do the same," said Fiona Nicholls, ocean plastics campaigner for Greenpeace UK.

She added: "This is such an easy, common sense first step that all supermarkets should have done this long ago. We urge retailers to end the nonsense of double-plastic packaging on all products straight away, and be bolder by introducing reusable and refillable packaging."

The World Wide Fund for Nature also supported Tesco's move.

"We need to remove unnecessary single-use plastic wherever possible, to stop the contamination of the natural world," said Paula Chin, from the WWF.

The top eight UK supermarkets produced 58.3 billion pieces of plastic packaging last year, according to a report last year by Greenpeace and the Environmental Investigation Agency.

Tesco is not the only supermarket to look into scrapping plastic wrap around tinned goods.

Waitrose has been trialling the removal of plastic wrap on multipacks of some of its canned vegetables since last October, in a move it says will save 18 tonnes of plastic a year.

Aldi is running a trial in 270 stores to replace the plastic wrapping on tuna multipack tins with a cardboard alternative.

Sainsbury's says it has committed to halving the use of its plastic packaging by 2025.

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