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Tesco introduces change to over 425 million bottles of milk – with new clear caps making it easier for customers to recycle at home


Customers shopping at Tesco will soon see changes across its own brand milk – as the supermarket works with suppliers to make milk bottles even easier to recycle. 

By removing coloured plastic and changing blue, red and green milk caps to a clear alternative – on around 425 million bottles of milk every year – Tesco is improving the quality of recovered material from household waste and enabling the cap to be recycled back into milk bottles. Customers are encouraged to squash or crush empty bottles, replacing the original lid before recycling to ensure it is not lost or discarded. 

Coloured plastic currently needs to be processed separately from clear packaging, and so this simple change means that each year 3,900 extra tonnes of recycled plastic can go back into making new bottles, a process which can be repeated every time a customer recycles it. 

The move will be seen in all Tesco stores, and across 4 pint, 2 pint and 1 pint bottles of milk. Different variants of milk – whole, semi-skimmed and skimmed – will still be clearly identifiable, thanks to coloured block labels around the main bottle.

James Waddy, Category Director for Dairy, said: “Ensuring our packaging is as sustainable as possible is really important to us, and customer feedback on our trial of these new clear milk caps has been overwhelmingly positive. We will continue to look for ways to improve the packaging of our products, and make it even easier for customers to recycle at home.”

Tesco follows its 4Rs strategy when it comes to plastic and packaging – aiming to remove plastic where it can, reduce where it can’t, reuse more and recycle what’s left. Earlier this month, the supermarket announced a trial of fresh mince ‘pillow packs’, which use 70% less plastic and are fully recyclable at in-store soft plastic collection points.                                           

To date, Tesco has removed around 2.2 billion pieces of plastic from its UK business, including: 

  • 200+ million bags from deliveries
  • 100+ million extra lids from products such as wipes, creams, yogurts and desserts
  • 33 million pieces of plastic from bakery bread and doughnuts 



Clear caps are currently being rolled out in Tesco stores, and customers will notice the change over the coming weeks.

You can read more about Tesco’s work across plastic and packaging here: Packaging and Plastic (

The 4Rs are underpinned by an industry leading Red/Amber/Green list of Preferred Materials and Formats. The list is based on UK recycling capabilities, infrastructure and end of life outcomes. It is a simple demonstration of the types of packaging Tesco want to use. Tesco has pressed suppliers to remove all ‘red’ materials and refused to stock new products that contain ‘red’ materials, as customers cannot easily recycle them in the UK.

Since the launch of the 4Rs strategy in August 2019, Tesco has reduced the size of its annual packaging footprint by more than 4,500 tonnes, including 2.2bn pieces of plastic. Packaging for fruit juices, crisps and cheese are all now being produced using less plastic.

Tesco has redesigned over 2,000 tonnes of packaging to improve recyclability and has doubled the amount of recycled content in its own label plastic packaging.

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