Tesco launches reusable packaging return scheme

Supermarket chain Tesco yesterday (13 September) launched a reusable packaging system in partnership with Loop, which will see customers refunded via a deposit return system if they bring the material back.

Some of the brands involved in the scheme

As part of the project, customers in ten large Tesco stores in the east of England will be able to buy products in reusable packaging, manufactured by Loop, that can be returned to store when finished so it can be cleaned, refilled and used again.

Loop is an initiative from TerraCycle. Depending on the product, the reusable packaging is made from either aluminium, glass, steel or a specially formed plastic. While not recyclable at the kerbside, once returned any of the packaging damaged beyond repair can be recycled by Terracycle.

The reusable range of 88 products will include brands, including Persil, Fever-Tree, Carex, Tetley Tea and BrewDog, and will be sold in designated aisles in stores.

Tesco has included 35 own brand essentials in the range, such as pasta, rice, oil and sugar, with even more products set to be added to the range throughout the year.


Ken Murphy, Tesco Group CEO, said: “We are determined to tackle plastic waste and one of the ways we can help is by improving reuse options available to customers.

“Bringing Loop to our stores is a significant milestone in this journey.

“With 88 everyday products available, we’re giving customers a wide range of options and we’ll learn as much as we can from this to inform our future packaging plans.”

Return points

In the ten stores, there is a “returns point” where customers can return the reusable loop packaging.

At the checkout, customers spend a small refundable deposit starting for the packaging, which will be refunded into their account when deposited at the return point, once the contents is finished with.

Loop containers will be picked up from stores and sent to dedicated facilities run by food hygiene specialist, Ecolab, where the packaging is cleaned and prepared for refill.

The packaging is then refilled and resealed and sent back to Tesco.

Prices for the contents of each item are comparable to the original. A fully refundable deposit starting at £0.20 is paid on each reusable product at checkout and this is refunded via an app when the customer returns the packaging to a collection point in the store.


How Loop works in store:

  • The customer visits the Loop fixture of the store and chooses which prefilled products in reusable Loop containers they want to buy. Where there is an identical product in plastic packaging, prices for the contents of each item are comparable to usual products.
  • At the end of their shop, the Loop items are put through the till with other shopping and a small deposit is paid for each piece of reusable packaging
  • Once home the products are consumed
  • The customer downloads the ‘Loop deposit’ app and registers their details
  • When they do their next shop, the customer brings back the empty containers
  • At the store, the customer collects a QR sticker from the Loop return point and sticks it on to the container. Then scans it using the Loop app on their phone
  • The empty containers are then placed in the Loop return point
  • Loop will collect the container and refund the deposit back to the customer via the app in 3-6 days
    Shoppers will also have the option of buying a Loop bag (again with a refundable deposit) with a QR code on it to make returning large numbers of containers easier and quicker.
  • The returned packaging is cleaned by Ecolab Inc, a global leader in cleaning and hygiene solutions and services. DHL will support Loop’s warehousing, fulfilment, returned deposit scanning and process all cleaned containers for distribution back to consumer product manufacturers.

“The consumer reaction to Loop in these first Tesco stores will prove pivotal in refining the Loop offering”

Tom Szaky, Loop chief executive

‘Perfect partner’

Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of Loop, said: “The consumer reaction to Loop in these first Tesco stores will prove pivotal in refining the Loop offering and ultimately we hope to scale reuse across more stores and the number of product lines available.

“Tesco is the perfect partner to bring Loop to retail in the UK due to its commitment to sustainability, in combating plastics waste and in its operational scale as the UK’s biggest grocery retailer.”

The ten Tesco stores launching reusable products with Loop this week are: Milton Keynes Kingston, Northampton South, Cambridge Newmarket Road, Wellingborough, Milton Keynes Wolverton, Evesham, Leicester,  Hamilton, Ashby De La Zouch and Loughborough Rushes.


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