(NaturalNews) The U.K. supermarket chain Tesco has launched a pilot program encouraging shoppers to leave behind any product packaging that they would rather go without, so that the store can recycle it for them.
The program, modeled on a similar program that has met success in Germany, will run for six weeks at stores in Guildford, Surrey and Ilminster, Somerset. Customers will be encouraged to strip off all the product packaging that they do not need and drop it into special designated bins near the cash registers. Before recycling the packaging, Tesco will analyze it in order to determine how it could revise its own packaging procedures in line with customer desires.
"We know that our customers want us to continue to reduce packaging," said Lucy Neville-Rolfe, Tesco's executive director for legal affairs. "At the same time we need to make sure that we are preventing unnecessary food waste. We are looking to find the least amount of packaging necessary and this trial will help us to establish customers' views."
The store has already made efforts to cut back on "wasteful" packaging, including external plastic wrappings on food and bulky dog food bags. It has implemented a total of 3,500 different recycling and packaging reduction programs, and 87 percent of in-store waste is currently diverted away from landfills. Tesco has set itself a target of 95 percent for the end of 2009.
A Local Government Association report recently ranked Tesco the grocery store with the least packaging, in comparison to Waitrose, which had the most. Sainsbury's was ranked number one for most recyclable packaging, while Lidl came in last.
"We know our customers expect us to help them recycle easily and we have also committed ourselves to cutting our own waste," said Alasdair James, Tesco's head of energy, waste and recycling. "This unique pilot helps us do both. Packaging left by customers at the store will tell us a lot about areas we may need to look at again, as well as where we have got it right."