Tesco removes plastic wrapping from soft drinks multipacks

Tesco has removed the external plastic wrapper from multipacks of its most popular own-brand soft drinks, in a move it claims will mitigate the use of 45 million pieces of plastic each year.

Tesco removes plastic wrapping from soft drinks multipacks

Packaging will be removed from 36 multipack lines by the end of autumn. Image: Tesco

The plastic wrapping is being removed from 36 of its soft drinks multipacks altogether. The drinks will be sold loose, but the same discount as was offered in wrapped multipacks will be applicable at the checkout. Tesco is keeping the price of each multipack to £1, or charging 50p for individual drinks.

Customers will notice packaging-free multipack buys for own-brand fizzy drinks in cans first. The changes will then be rolled out across energy drinks, water, fruit juices and childrens’ drinks in the autumn. Once the full rollout is complete, Tesco is anticipating a reduction in plastic production and circulation of 45 million pieces every year.

As well as the environmental benefit of the change, Tesco is emphasising how it will be good news for people who want to mix and match drinks. Customers will be able to get the multipack price when purchasing four of any of the drinks included.

“Customers are focused on getting great value right now, but they still want to use less plastic,” said Tesco’s head of packaging development Johnny Neville.

The approach taken to removing multipack wrap from drinks is the same that the supermarket has previously taken with cans. On cans, Tesco has removed multipack wraps from all own-brand products and has worked with Heinz to also phase-out the plastic from its supplied products. That process first began in early 2020.

Elsewhere, Tesco has removed all plastic shrink-wrap from its own-brand beer and cider multipacks, choosing paper-based alternatives. The supermarket stated in February that it removed 500 million pieces of plastic packaging from its own-brand lines during 2021, after one billion pieces were removed during 2019 and 2020.

Tesco’s plastics packaging strategy uses a framework based on the ‘4 Rs’ – removal, reduction, reuse and recycling. Soon after it updated the strategy in 2019, the retailer began the process of assessing all of its plastic packaging formats and changing them in line with this hierarchy; removal should be the first port of call.

Less than two months ago, a report assessing the plastics strategies and progress of 130 of the largest food retailers in Europe found weak progress in general. Co-published by 20 influential environmental NGOs, the report called for more regulation to make these businesses disclose their plastics footprint, after 82% failed to provide this information. The report also cautioned supermarkets against positioning flexible packaging take-back and recycling schemes as a solution and encouraged more investment in reusable and packaging-free options.

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