Tesco has become the first major retailer to scrap soft plastic rings and shrink wrap packaging from all beers and ciders in its UK stores.
The ground-breaking move, made in hand with many of the leading drinks giants, will lead to 50 million fewer pieces of unrecycled plastic being produced each year.
The plastic rings are reviled by environmental groups and those with a green conscience as they can contribute to our oceans being choked up and also endanger wildlife such as birds and turtles.
Tesco will stop receiving beer and ciders that are held together by soft plastic rings and shrink wraps in early May.
It expects to sell through the last remaining stock in the coming weeks and will not order beers or ciders that use this packaging in the future.
Tesco 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 and ensure that all the packaging in our stores can be easily recycled.”
The move is part of the supermarket’s ongoing 4Rs (Remove, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) strategy set up to remove excess and non-recyclable material from its business and recycle the rest.
As a part of this work, Tesco has already hit its target of removing a billion pieces of plastic including tinned multipacks, lids and the small bags used to pack loose fruit and veg.
Beer and cider brands who sell to Tesco will now use materials for multipacks such as cardboard sleeves, boxes, or a rigid plastic that can be easily recycled via kerbside collections. Heineken has stopped using plastic rings in favour of a cardboard alternative called the ‘Green Grip’:
James Crampton, Corporate Affairs Director, Heineken UK, said: “Never has sustainability been so high on the agenda and we are incredibly proud to work with Tesco, who like us, see the important role we both play in helping to protect the future of our planet.
“Green Grip eliminates the plastic rings on cans of beer and cider – it’s a game-changer that impacts hundreds of millions of packs of beers and ciders and removes the equivalent plastic of 94 million plastic bags.”
The move has been hailed by environmental group WWF.
Paula Chin, WWF’s Sustainable Materials Specialist said: “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.”