Tesco is replacing its plastic-wrapped multipacks with plastic-free multibuys eliminating 350 tonnes of plastic from the environment.

The supermarket announced it will become the first UK retailer to remove them from all their stores and replace them with plastic-free multibuys, which will see 67 million pieces of plastic eliminated.

Tins will be available individually with no plastic wrap holding them together and will still be eligible for multibuy deals, just without plastic!

More than 40% of Tesco customers include multipacks in their shop. Multipacks of baked beans, tuna, tinned tomatoes and soup are among the most frequently-bought grocery items in the UK. 183,000 tinned multipacks are bought every day at Tesco.

The change applies to both Tesco own brand products and branded products, like Heinz Beanz. It will help more than eight million households in the UK reduce the amount of plastic they use. It contributes to Tesco’s commitment to remove 1bn pieces of plastic from its own brand products by the end of 2020.

Tesco CEO Dave Lewis said:

“We are removing all unnecessary and non-recyclable plastic from Tesco. As part of this work, removing plastic wrapped multipacks from every Tesco store in the UK will cut 350 tonnes of plastic from the environment every year and customers will still benefit from the same great value ‘multipack’ price. This is part of our plan to remove 1 billion pieces of plastic in 2020.”

Georgiana de Noronha, President of Kraft Heinz Northern Europe, said:

“We’re excited to be partnering with Tesco on this. While we know we have more to do, this initiative is good news for the environment, and for the millions of people who enjoy Heinz varieties every day, as they’ll still be able to benefit from the same great value for money.”

A Canada goose is pictured next to plastic in the River Trent.
– © Jack Perks / Greenpeace

In Spring 2019 Greenpeace took to the UK’s rivers to investigate microplastic pollution. During their investigation, they witnessed voles eating plastic, swans using it to build their nests, and caddisfly larva using it to make their protective casings.

During the study, they found:

  • All 13 UK rivers tested contained microplastics.
  • A total of 1,271 pieces of plastic, ranging in size from straw and bottle-top fragments to tiny microbeads less than 1mm across.
  • Five out of 13 rivers contained microbeads – which were partially banned in 2017!
  • More than half the rivers tested contained plastic pellets called ‘nurdles’, which are used as a raw material in the production of plastic products.
Bonnie Wright joins scientists and campaigners to investigate plastic pollution in the River Wye.
Image: Will Rose / Greenpeace

Dr David Santillo, senior scientist with the Greenpeace Research Laboratories at the University of Exeter said: “The results of this report speak for themselves. Every single river we tested contained microplastic, and given what is known already about the effects of plastics on marine wildlife, it is reasonable to assume that the plastic pollution of our rivers poses some level of threat to river wildlife. There is an urgent need for research to better understand those threats, as well as the risks to human health”.

“We ignore this problem at our peril. Once microplastics are in the river, they become impossible to remove again, so we have to solve the problem at the source.”

The study for their report can be found at www.greenpeace.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/plastics_v08.pdf

Tesco’s announcement today (24/01) is part of their 4Rs strategy – Remove, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – means it will remove non-recyclable and excess packaging from its business. Where packaging can’t be removed, for example where it prevents food waste, Tesco will work with its suppliers to reduce it to an absolute minimum. The retailer will explore new opportunities to reuse packaging and ensure anything left is recycled as part of a closed-loop system.

At the end of last year, Tesco removed all hard to recycle materials from its own-brand products and is working with suppliers to do the same. In August last year, Tesco also briefed 1500 suppliers that packaging will be a factor in its decisions on which products are sold in its stores.

The changes announced today will be rolled out in stores from March 2nd, with no further plastic-wrapped multipacks ordered by Tesco from that date. Remaining stock will be allowed to sell-through.