In a press release posted recently, Tesco has advised of a targeted forty five packaged goods to be free of packaging in the retailer’s latest move toward sustainable packaging.
This trial, in two of their stores only, is to remove packaged fruit and veg, wherever a loose alternative exists.
Customers will see fruit and veg including varieties of apples, mushrooms, peppers, onions, bananas and avocados free from their packaging.
This comes as a part of Tesco’s commitments to reduce the amount of packaging in its stores and ensure any remaining plastic has a clear purpose and is recyclable.
The supermarket is working to create a closed loop for its packaging, including eliminating hard-to-recycle materials, reducing overall packaging volumes and making it easier for customers to recycle.
The retailer will be surveying shoppers in the stores to help understand the reaction to the trial. It will also be closely monitoring each of the included products to see if there is an increase in food waste.
Tesco’s Director of Quality Sarah Bradbury said:
“We want to remove as much plastic as we can from our products, only using what is necessary to protect and preserve our food.
“We hope this trial proves popular with customers. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the results, including any impact on food waste.
“Whatever happens, we’re going to keep reducing the amount of packaging we use and ensure everything on our shelves is fully recyclable.”
The above initiative is admirable, presenting a realistic and balanced view that includes the recognition that plastic plays a significant role in food packaging and helps to combat another environmental concern, that of food waste.
Plastic packaging is generally used because it decreases food waste. In many ways, plastic is ideal for this application. It is light and thin, strong, easy to process and transparent. It is very effective for extending shelf life and maintaining food quality during storage and transportation. Decades of dedicated research and development has resulted in sophisticated plastic structures which are perfect for packaging perishable foods.”
The reduction in plastics usage could exacerbate the issue of food waste if it is not managed well. It would be a shame if a slavish effort to reduce the use of plastics in food packaging resulted in an increase of food waste.
This is unfortunately where we are heading now. The answer is to balance the argument by looking at the overall environmental impact of the food and the packaging. In some cases, plastic may provide the best results.
The disposal of plastic is a key but slightly separate issue. If people insist on throwing it in the sea then it does make sense to get rid of it. We would hope that sensible recycling, composting, incineration and responsible disposal mechanisms, by all, will prevent this.
8th April 2019