Tesco has committed to using fully electric HGVs, but what are other supermarkets doing?

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  • COP26
A Tesco extra superstore  (Getty Images)
A Tesco extra superstore (Getty Images)

Supermarkets have a major responsibility when it comes to helping consumers lower their carbon footprints.

Thank goodness, then, that many of them have implemented measures in the past year to help shoppers become more environmentally friendly.

Now, Tesco is the latest supermarket to unveil a sustainability initiative, revealing its plans to reduce its emissions by launching two fully-electric heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) – the first to be used commercially in the UK.

The supermarket said the use of the lorries could play a “key role” in the haulage industry’s transition to zero emission transport in the coming years. HGVs currently make up around 16 per cent of the UK’s domestic transport emissions.

The pilot will be launched in Wales, where the electric vehicles will be used to transport Tesco’s food and other products from near Cardiff to the retailer’s distribution centre in Magor – around 30 miles each way.

In a statement announcing the launch, Tesco said the vehicles are able to travel for 100 miles per charge, making the round trip an ideal journey to understand the “potential and range” of electric HGVs.

The supermarket estimates that just two lorries could replace 65,000 diesel-fueled road miles a year, cutting an estimated 87.4 tonnes of annual carbon dioxide emissions.

Jason Tarry, the CEO of Tesco UK, said the initiative is a key step towards the retailer’s goal of becoming net zero by 2035.

“We’ve already made progress by starting our switch to electric home delivery vans and rolling out electric vehicles charging points for our customers. I’m excited that Tesco can also lead the way in electric haulage innovation, helping to tackle this last source of road transport emissions with the support of FSEW.”

The news comes less than a month after Tesco revealed it will start winding its toilet roll more tightly onto carboard tubes in order to reduce the size of its large multipacks – and the amount of plastic used to pack them.

The initiative means that the supermarket will save 67 tonnes of plastic packaging each year while also needing 17 fewer lorries to transport the rolls from its supplier to its distribution centres.

The 24-roll own-brand pack of toilet rolls, which is one of Tesco’s bulkiest items, has shrunk significantly in size as it was replaced with the new 12 pack of “double rolls” that have twice the number of sheets wound on to them.

Additionally, it is also reducing the size of its four and nine-roll packs by winding the paper more tightly.

Katie Frost, buying manager of paper at Tesco, said: “As well as removing unnecessary plastic, reducing the size of multipacks will free up valuable space in our lorries that can be put to great use this Christmas.

“We are looking at a number of ways to use less packaging as a part of our 4Rs packaging strategy. In the last few years, we have cut six thousand tonnes of packaging from products, including a billion pieces of plastic.”

But it’s not the first time a supermarket has announced an initiative aimed at reducing its waste and emissions.

In July, Lidl claimed to have removed more than one billion pieces of plastic from its stores in a bid to eliminate its plastic waste.

The German supermarket announced that it had withdrawn 24 million plastic trays and punnets from its fruit and vegetable ranges, and up to 25 million plastic lids from its dairy products.

Lidl also revealed it would cease all use of plastic packaging on fresh flowers and plastic tags on its fruit and vegetables.

The move comes as part of the retailer’s pledge to remove 1.5 billion pieces of plastic from its stores by the end of this year, and two billion pieces by the end of 2022.

Elsewhere, Iceland has pledged to become “plastic neutral” from 2022.

The retailer said it will recover and recycle waste plastic to the equivalent of its own total plastic consumption from next year as it pledged to “continue to work towards” being plastic-free across its own-label packaging.

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