The supermarket chain will start by removing the tray and film from 16 million (m) of its own-label medium, large and extra-large chickens, and replace it with a single bag. In addition to removing 16m pieces of plastic, it has also committed to cutting the overall weight of plastic used to package its whole fresh birds by 30%.
The new packaging was also more hygienic for customers to handle and made it easier to transfer the bird into a roasting tray without having to handle the chicken, it said.
Tesco successfully trialled the new packaging at its store in Bar Hill where it tests ideas to help tackle the impact of plastics.
Tesco’s 4Rs strategy
The move is the latest step in Tesco’s 4Rs strategy – Remove, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – which means it will remove non-recyclable and excess packaging from its business. Where it can’t be removed, for example where it prevents food waste, Tesco will work with its suppliers to reduce it to an absolute minimum. The retailer aims to explore new opportunities to reuse its packaging and ensure that anything left is all recycled as part of a closed loop.
Earlier this year, Tesco became the first retailer to stop offering plastic wrapped multi-packs, eliminating 67m pieces of plastic from the environment. And last month, the retailer changed the packaging of its own label hard cheeses to remove 260t of plastic each year. The traditional square block shape was changed to oblong packaging and removed the previous resealable zip.
“We’re focused on removing any plastic which is unnecessary, reducing anything that is excessive, introducing reusable options, and making sure everything that’s left is recyclable," said Sarah Bradbury, quality director at Tesco. "Our new chicken pack is a great example of how we are redesigning our packaging to use less plastic, and at the same time we have made it easier and safer for customers to use.”
In November 2019, Tesco committed to removing one billion pieces of plastic from its UK business by the end of 2020 as a part of its 4Rs plan to tackle the use of plastics in its business. It has so far removed more than 800m pieces.
The supermarket is also currently running a ten-store trial where it is taking back hard to recycle soft plastic packaging using in store collection stations.