Tesco’s Plastic Waste Plan: 20 Million Pieces Removed from Christmas Range

Tesco's Plastic Waste Plan: 20 Million Pieces Removed from Christmas Range

Tesco has removed over 20 million pieces of plastic from this year’s Christmas range as part of a national drive to reduce the company’s plastic pollution.

Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket, has now removed all or most of the single-use plastic from its own-brand lights, cards, Christmas puddings, and crackers — which will be plastic-free for the first time ever. Instead, the crackers will contain non-plastic contents and feature cardboard packaging.  This alone will cut more than 14 million pieces of plastic from seasonal products.

Additionally, Tesco has removed 1.78 million pieces of plastic that usually wrap its Christmas puddings and sponges. The supermarket has also removed glitter from all single-use products and packaging — making many of them recyclable. Glitter contains microplastics, which can collect in rivers and oceans, causing serious harm to the environment — and humans.

Tesco will now sell both Christmas cards and fairy lights in recyclable cardboard. Replacing the thin, single-use wrapping on cards alone saves approximately 4.6 million pieces of plastic. While more than 312,000 Christmas lights will feature new, plastic-free packaging this year.

“It is an absolute priority of ours to remove and reduce the amount of plastic in our stores to the minimum and ensure everything we use is recycled and kept out of the environment. Christmas time is no exception and we want to do our bit to help customers have more sustainable celebrations,” said Sarah Bradbury, Tesco’s quality director, in a statement.

Tesco removed over 20 million pieces of plastic from this year’s Christmas range. | Tesco

What’s the problem with plastic?

While plastic wasn’t invented until the late 19th century — and production didn’t begin in earnest until the mid-1900s — 9.2 billion tons have already been produced and just 9 percent recycled. Today, plastics are present in the oceans, in our food, and even in our bodies.

In 2022, retailers will face increased legislation and a new tax on plastic packaging that is less than 30 percent recycled. Many other supermarkets are also aiming to reduce their reliance on single-use packaging this Christmas, including Waitrose, Asda, Iceland, and Morrisons.

According to recent research from Tesco, around 74 percent of Brits will have sustainability in mind when making purchasing decisions this Christmas. An overall increase of 36 percent year-on-year from 2019.

Tesco also found that 51 percent of shoppers will reuse Christmas decorations, 23 percent will reuse wrapping paper, and 19 percent will avoid all new plastic-based gifts, wrapping, and decorations. Thirty-two percent will only buy loose fruit and vegetables, so as to avoid unnecessary plastic packaging when shopping for their Christmas dinners.

If you’re aiming for a zero-waste Christmas, here are some sustainable alternatives to traditional wrapping paper.