Tesco to stop selling baby wipes containing plastic first to UK supermarkets | Tesco

Tesco is to become the first of Britain’s major retailers to stop selling baby wipes containing plastic, which cause environmental damage as they block sewers and waterways after being rinsed off by consumers.

The supermarket said it was stopping sales of branded baby wipes containing plastic from March 14, about two years after it stopped using plastic in its own-brand products.

The UK’s biggest grocer is also the country’s biggest seller of baby wipes. Its customers buy 75 million packs of baby wipes every year, or 4.8 billion individual wipes.

Tesco said it had worked to reformulate some of the other own brand and branded wipes it sells to phase out plastic, including cleaning wipes and wet toilet paper. It said its only type of wipe still containing plastic – designed for use on pets – would also be plastic-free by the end of the year.

Tesco started removing plastic from its own-brand wet wipes in 2020, when it switched to biodegradable viscose, which it says breaks down much faster.

Sarah Bradbury, Tesco Group Quality Manager, said: “We have worked hard to eliminate plastic from our wipes because we know how long they take to break down.

Tesco is not the first retailer to withdraw wipes from sale for environmental reasons. Health food chain Holland and Barrett said it was the first high street retailer to ban the sale of all wet wipes products in its 800 stores in the UK and Ireland in September 2019, replacing all range by reusable alternatives. Beauty chain Body Shop has also removed all face wipes from its stores.

It is estimated that up to 11 billion wet wipes are used in the UK every year, the majority containing some form of plastic, many of which are flushed down the toilet, causing growing problems for the environment.

Last November, MPs heard how wet wipes form islands, causing rivers to change shape as the products build up on their banks, while marine animals die after ingesting microplastics.

They are also an important component of the fatbergs that form in the sewers, leading to blockages whose elimination requires complex interventions.

Tesco said any wipes sold that could not be flushed down the toilet were clearly labeled “do not flush”.

Nonetheless, environmental campaigners and MPs have long called on retailers to do more to eliminate plastics from their products and packaging.

The supermarket said it was trying to tackle the impact of plastic waste as part of its “4Rs” packaging strategy, which is to eliminate plastic waste where possible, or reduce it, while looking for ways to reuse more and recycle.

The chain said it has opened soft plastic collection points in more than 900 stores and launched a trial of reusable packaging with the Loop shopping service, which delivers food, drink and household products to consumers in containers. rechargeable.

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