In an article published on May 24, 2018 by the newspaper The Independent, correspondent Josh Gabbatiss reported that UK retailer Tesco has announced its intention to ban all non-recyclable plastic packaging by 2019. Tesco has also called on the UK government “to help establish a consistent recycling infrastructure that would enable a ‘closed loop’ system in which waste is avoided altogether,” Gabbatiss further informed. However, Tesco has not yet “set a firm commitment to reduce the volume of plastic it produces and sells,” he noted. In April 2018, Tesco joined the UK Plastics Pact, an initiative aiming to eliminate single-use plastic packaging (FPF reported).
Jason Tarry, Tesco’s chief product officer stated: “We will work with our suppliers to redesign and reduce all packaging materials and, after consultation with our leading suppliers earlier this year, we will remove all packaging that is hard to recycle from our business by 2019.” The announced action will target e.g., PVC-containing plastic films, polystyrene trays, and water-soluble bioplastics. According to a Tesco spokeswoman, the action will not address “black plastic[s] that are recyclable but are not widely recycled across the UK.”
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) welcomed Tesco’s announcement. Elena Polisano, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, highlighted that “[b]y acknowledging that we can’t blindly replace plastics with bioplastics, some of which can also persist in the environment and harm wildlife, Tesco is committing to avoid false solutions.” Julian Kirby, plastics campaigner at Friends of the Earth, however, pointed out: “What’s missing is the long-term vision – we need system change, and we need all stakeholders to step out of the comfort zone of thinking we can just recycle our way out of this.” He further stated: “If we are going to end plastic pollution, we need to phase out all but the most essential plastics.”
Josh Gabbatiss (May 24, 2018). “Tesco to ban non-recyclable plastic packaging by 2019.” The Independent
Olivia Rosane (May 25, 2018). “UK’s largest grocer takes on food and plastic waste.” EcoWatch