From the (then) Director of Waste, Recycling & Packaging at Tesco – an Environmental Checklist

Here is a simple check-list from the Director of Waste, Recycling & Packaging at Tesco that allows us to make the best packaging decisions for the environment:

1. Does it do its job?
It hardly needs saying but the whole point of packaging is to keep a product in peak condition until it has reached the customer’s home or been consumed.

2. Can we use less of it?
We spend £600m every year on packaging so it is in our interest to keep on finding ways to reduce what we use. This can be a simple case of light-weight wine bottles and tin cans, or rethinking how we package a whole range.

Last year, we dropped bulky blister packs from our electrical products and used shrink wrap instead. We saved 72 tonnes of mixed packaging as a result.

3. Is there a better material?
Once we’ve thought about the perfect design, we can think about the best material to make it from. We are trying to increase the amount of recycled content in the materials we buy. For instance, we now sell our freshly baked buns and cakes in clear plastic boxes made from 50% recycled PET.

4. Can we reuse it?
Packaging and recycling should always be considered together. As the UK Government continues to build a coherent recycling infrastructure, we can support them by choosing to use packaging that most councils accept for recycling.

The real challenge now is to communicate to our customers the reductions we are making and why the packaging that remains is essential, and not the whim of unthinking manufacturers or retailers. There is still a lot of work to be done but it is work worth doing – and our customers will thank us for it.

Alasdair James
Director of Waste, Recycling & Packaging,
Tesco PLC


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