UK-based supermarket giant, Tesco PLC, is set to become the first major retailer in the country to stop the sale of baby wipes that contain plastic, two years after it ended using plastic in its own-brand items.
Starting 14th March, Tesco will be ceasing the sales of branded baby wipes containing plastic, which damages the environment by blocking waterways and sewers after being flushed.
Apart from being the largest grocer, the chain is also the biggest retailer of baby wipes in the UK, with its customers purchasing 75 million packs, equating to more than 4.8 billion individual baby wipes, every year.
It is estimated that as many as 11 billion wet wipes are used in the UK every year, with majority containing some sort of plastic, causing immense harm to the environment as they are usually flushed down the toilet.
In November last year, British MPs had heard about wet wipes forming islands and causing rivers to change shape, due to them piling-up on their banks, and also becoming one of the leading causes of death for marine animals from ingestion of microplastics.
The firm stated that it is working on reformulating some of the other branded as well as own-label wipes, including moist toilet tissues and cleaning wipes, to eliminate plastic. Adding that its only plastic-containing wipes, made for pets, would become plastic-free by the end of the year as well.
Sarah Bradbury, Group Quality Director, Tesco, stated that the company has worked hard in removing plastic from its wipes as it is aware of how long it takes them to break down.
The supermarket chain began removing plastic from its own-brand wipes in 2020, switching to biodegradable viscose which breaks down faster.
It also started soft-plastic collection points in over 900 of its stores as well as a reusable packaging trial to deliver products in refillable containers.
The group is working on combating plastic waste with its 4R plastic strategy, under which it removes or reduces plastic waste wherever possible and looks for more ways to reuse and recycle.