Tesco has met with more than 1,500 suppliers to explain the latest phase in its strategy to reduce packaging, which may lead to it removing suppliers’ products from shelves if they fail to comply.
The retailer launched the latest part of its Remove, Reduce, Reuse & Recycle plan to reduce packaging in its stores.
Tesco said it had met the suppliers over four meetings. The plan so far has focused on Tesco own-brand product lines, setting out four steps that govern packaging design across all product categories, but it is now expanding to branded suppliers.
It aims to remove all non-recyclable and hard-to-recycle material from these product lines.
Where such material cannot be removed it should be reduced to an absolute minimum. At the same time it is urging suppliers to explore new opportunities to reuse the packaging and if this is not possible recycle it as part of a closed loop.
Earlier in August Tesco group CEO Dave Lewis warned suppliers they could face being delisted if they failed to shift towards recyclable packaging.
In a more recent statement he added: “From next year, we will assess packaging as part of our ranging decisions, and if it’s excessive or inappropriate, we reserve the right not to list it.”
Tesco announced plans to remove hard-to-recycle materials in 2018 and said it will have eliminated the hardest-to-recycle materials from own-brand products by the end of 2019.
In this period it will have removed over 4,000 tonnes of materials from 8,000 lines.
At the meetings Tesco told suppliers that from next year, the size and suitability of packaging will be assessed as part of category reviews and ranging decisions.
Lewis said: “In the first quarter of 2018 we audited all packaging materials in our business and set ourselves a challenge to remove all hard-to-recycle material by 2019. We’re on track for Tesco own-brand and we’re working with branded suppliers to deliver the same.
“Now we’re taking the next step and tackling excess packaging.”
Suppliers were shown a case study from a branded crisps manufacturer showing that by reducing the size of packaging on multi-buy crisps by 23%, the manufacturer reduced packaging weight by 5,000 tonnes during the trial period.
This led to 50,000 fewer road miles as pallets were packed more efficiently, reducing the number of lorry journeys.
Tesco also repeated calls for the government to introduce a national collection and recycling infrastructure to deliver a closed loop for packaging.
Lewis added: “Without a national infrastructure, industry efforts to improve the recyclability of materials used in packaging will be a drop in the ocean.”
He said that in January 2018 Tesco called on the government to introduce this infrastructure and offered space in its car parks for recycling and testing the collection of materials not currently recycled by local councils.
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