We want to help our customers live their lives with less plastic. 

Why it matters/commitments

We’re working on reducing, replacing or eliminating plastic, encouraging reuse and recycling, and using alternative materials.

Our 2025 targets:

  • 100% of plastic packaging to be recyclable, reusable or compostable.
  • 50% reduction in primary plastic packaging (the packaging that contains the products we sell) for our own-brand products against a 2017 baseline.
  • 30% average recycled content in our plastic packaging.

Additionally, we’re working towards recycling and reusing the equivalent amount of plastic we put on to the market within our own recycling facilities by 2025.

Removing and reducing packaging

By 2021, we had reduced our plastic packaging by 14% from our 2017 baseline. This means we have removed, on average, 7,520 tonnes of plastic packaging each year since we set our target. Some recent projects include:

  • Extending the range of plastic-free loose fruit and veg across our stores to up to 75 varieties across 332 of our 497 stores.
  • Moving our range of own-brand bananas to paper bands, removing the need for 45 million single-use plastic bags or 180 tonnes of plastic.
  • Taking steps to make our products lighter, for example removing 400 tonnes of plastic from our minced meat trays and 110 tonnes from our bread bags.
  • Replacing our plastic “bag for life” with a paper alternative. Made in Wales from paper sourced from sustainably managed forests, it is strong enough to carry up to 16kg. Independent analysis from the University of Sheffield has shown this bag to have better environmental performance than its plastic equivalent. 

Increasing recyclability

So that customers know what’s recyclable, we’ve added front-of-pack recycling instructions to our top 400 lines, covering around 500 million items sold each year .We’ve also taken steps to remove hard-to-recycle plastics from our own-brand products, including expanded polystyrene, black plastic and rigid PVC.

By buying a significant stake in a new recycling site in Fife, we became the first supermarket to own our own recycling operations. The plant will turn hard-to-recycle flexible plastic food packaging – including chocolate wrappers, crisp packets, and food film – into plastic flakes, pellets and Ecosheets, which are an alternative to plywood. At current capacity, the site will take 15,000 tonnes of flexible plastic packaging a year.

Elimination of Single Use Plastics

As part of our industry commitment the UK Plastics Pact, we’ve continued to work hard to remove single-use plastics from our stores. Since 2017,  we’ve removed 1 billion items. This includes:

  • 31.2 million single-use cutlery pieces across salad bars and food to go.
  • 80 million plastic straws from our cafes, boxes of straws and drink cartons.
  • 331 million plastic tea bags, which have been replaced by a plant- based material for all of our own brand tea.

We only sell own-brand paper-stem cotton buds and metal or paper drinking straws.

Encouraging reuse & refill

We’re exploring more ways to help our customers reuse and refill packaging so they can live life with less plastic. Recent projects include:

  • Giving customers a 25p discount for using their own cups in our cafés, and offering water refill stations in all our stores and forecourts. 
  • Encouraging customers to bring their own reusable containers at our butcher, fishmonger and deli counters.
  • Launching cleaning products in water-soluble pods so plastic trigger bottles can be reused again and again.
  • Working with local dairy farmers to offer customers milk in glass bottles, which can be returned again and again to our stores. Since launch, this has saved the equivalent of 40,000 plastic milk containers from our stores each year.