Updated May 11, 2021

Tesco scraps plastic from cans of alcohol in UK stores

In a move to reduce plastic pollution, the UK grocery giant Tesco is removing all plastic rings and shrink wrap that keeps the cans of alcoholic beverages together in multipacks from its stores.

The ground-breaking move which the company claims will remove 50 million pieces of non-recyclable plastic from the waste stream, is the first of its kind in the UK and forms part of the company's 4Rs (Remove, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) strategy. That strategy aims to remove a billion pieces of plastic, as well as reduce the size of packaging by 2000 tonnes a year, as well as improve the recyclability of thousands of pieces of packaging.

Beer and cider brands who wish to sell to Tesco will now need to replace the materials they use for multipacks and use more environmentally-friendly options, such as cardboard sleeves, boxes or rigid plastic, which is easily recyclable through kerbside collections.

The store will continue to sell the leftover stock of beverages bound by plastic, but from early May will not be ordering any more for sale that does not meet the criteria.

Tesco's quality director Sarah Bradbury said: "We are working hand in hand with some of the world's biggest brands to tackle the problem of unnecessary plastic.

"Our mission is to remove, reduce, reuse and recycle so we use as little material as possible to ensure that all the packaging in our stores can be easily recycled."

This move was welcomed by environmental groups, with WWF's sustainable materials specialist, Paula Chin, saying: "Plastic pollution is one of the most visible symptoms of the environmental crisis and is devastating our natural world. We welcome this positive action from Tesco.

"If we are to achieve our shared goal to halve the environmental impact of the average shopping basket, we need collective action across retailers and brands to remove and reduce all problematic plastics."