Tesco is to ban soft plastic rings and shrink wrap packaging from all beers and ciders across its UK stores.
It means that if drinks brands wish to continue selling into Tesco, they must now package their beer and cider products in alternative materials, such as cardboard sleeves, boxes or recycled plastic.
The supermarket giant claims the announcement makes it the first major retailer to outlaw the sale of hard-to-recycle plastic.
Tesco Quality Director Sarah Bradbury said they had liaised with a number of leading drinks companies on the initiative which will lead to 50 million fewer individual pieces of unrecycled plastic being produced annually.
“We are working hand in hand with some of the world’s biggest brands to tackle the problem of unnecessary plastic,” she said. “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.”
Plastic rings commonly found on multi-packs of drinks have been polluting the environment for decades. Nowhere has this been illustrated more than our oceans where thousands of birds, turtles, marine mammals and other wildlife are killed every year by discarded 6-pack rings.
Many of Britain’s leading brewers, such as Budweiser Brewing Group UK and Guinness owner Diageo, have already ditched plastic multipack packaging.
Carlsberg Group introduced ‘snap packs’ – multipacks held together with glue that can be placed in household recycling along with the aluminium cans.
Heineken meanwhile introduced its “Green Grip” last year, a 100 percent plastic-free robust cardboard topper.
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.
Tesco’s news was applauded 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.”
She added: “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.”