Tesco has announced that it has removed soft plastic rings and shrink wrap packaging from all beers and ciders in its UK stores.
The eco-friendly move, made in collaboration with a number of leading drinks producers, will lead to 50 million fewer pieces of un-recycled plastic each year.
Remove, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The move, which Tesco claims is a first among major UK retailer, is part of its ongoing 4Rs (Remove, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) strategy set up to remove excess and non-recyclable material from its business and recycle the rest.
As a part of this strategy, Tesco has already hit its target of removing a billion pieces of plastic including tinned multipacks, lids, and the small bags used to pack loose fruit and vegetables.
Beer and cider brands that sell to Tesco will now use materials for multipacks such as cardboard sleeves, boxes, or rigid plastic that can be easily recycled via kerbside collections.
Elsewhere, Heineken has stopped using plastic rings in favour of a cardboard alternative called the ‘Green Grip’.
James Crampton, corporate affairs director, Heineken UK, said, "Never has sustainability been so high on the agenda and we are incredibly proud to work with Tesco, who like us, see the important role we both play in helping to protect the future of our planet.
"Green Grip eliminates the plastic rings on cans of beer and cider - it’s a game-changer that impacts hundreds of millions of packs of beers and ciders and removes the equivalent plastic of 94 million plastic bags."
The removal of the plastic rings, which are hated by environmental groups as they can endanger wildlife such as birds and turtles, has been hailed by Tesco's environmental partners, WWF.
According to Tesco, the chain will stop receiving beer and ciders that are held together by soft plastic rings and shrink wraps in early May.
It expects to sell through the last remaining stock in the coming weeks and will not order beers or ciders that use this packaging in the future, it added.