Tesco is switching plastic bags for paper ones in its bakeries as part of a pledge to remove a billion pieces of plastic for sale in its UK stores by the end of 2020.

The retailer plans to remove non-recyclable and excess packaging from its business under its Remove, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle strategy.

Where Tesco can’t remove plastic, such as where it prevents food waste, the retailer said it will work with its suppliers to reduce it to a minimum.

Suppliers have been told Tesco reserves the right to no longer stock products that use excessive or hard to recycle materials.

The retailer will explore new opportunities to reuse its packaging and ensure anything left is recycled as part of a closed loop.

Tesco will be removing:

  • Small plastic bags used to pack loose fruit, vegetables and bakery items, and replacing them with paper ones
  • Plastic trays from ready meals
  • Secondary lids on products such as cream, yoghurts and cereals
  • Sporks and straws from snack pots and drinks cartons
  • 200m pieces of plastic used to pack clothing and greetings cards

“Our work to Remove, Reduce, Reuse & Recycle is already transforming our packaging,” said Tesco CEO Dave Lewis.

“Over the next twelve months, we will remove one billion pieces of plastic, further reducing the environmental impact of the products we sell. By focusing on solutions that we can apply across all our UK stores and supply chain, we can make a significant difference and achieve real scale in our efforts to tackle plastic.” 

Tesco has already stopped offering carrier bags with online deliveries.

The move follows Sainsbury’s vow this summer to switch from plastic bags for loose bakery items in all its store. The retailer did make the switch for it fruit and veg - for which customers will be able to purchase a reusable bag or bring their own – as they take up more space than plastic bags.