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Tesco Shifting Away from Packaging Weight Reduction Goal

tesco-1aTesco’s new corporate responsibility report signals a change in direction for reducing the environmental impact of  packaging in its stores.

In recent years the retailer has been committed to reducing packaging weight by 25 percent by 2010. The retailer has progressed enough that the UK’s Local Government Association proclaimed Tesco to have the least packaging by weight of all major UK supermarkets.

However, dialogue between Tesco and suppliers indicates that having a primary goal of reducing packaging weight may not be the “most beneficial and environmentally comprehensive measure.” In the meantime, Tesco has changed its goal to reduce packaging by weight. Now, the retailer is aiming for a 15 percent reduction by 2010.

This year’s report is short on details about the new primary goal, but Tesco promises to provide a more comprehensive long-term target in next year’s responsibility report.

Notably, Tesco has been testing a new policy that lets customers remove and leave plastic and paper packaging from products purchased in store. Additionally, Tesco has developed a piece of software called the Environmental Design Tool that gives the company and its suppliers an unbiased assessment of the different materials and products used in stores

Here are some highlights from the 2009 report.

  • Tesco added carbon footprint labels to 100 store-brand items.
  • A new format retail store in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, has a 70 percent smaller carbon footprint than a similar store built in 2006.
  • Tesco’s UK stores have cut energy use per square foot in half since 2000.
  • The retailer is working with 250 suppliers on more than 3,600 packaging reduction initiatives, which so far has resulted in more than 80,000 tons of saved packaging.
  • Tesco says it has reduced private-brand dairy packaging by 19 percent and private-brand fresh produce packaging by 34 percent.
  • Tesco says it is unable to report water use for its group. It says it is working with the Sustainable Consumption Institute on reporting this.

To reduce the impact from its product distribution, which accounts for 11 percent of the total carbon footprint, Tesco is using existing vehicles more efficiently, while also investing in alternative transport and new technology. The company has boosted the number of double-decker transports from 200 to 300, and it is using rail to transport some goods, which alone has resulted in saving 2,909 tons of CO2 annually since 2006.

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