Tesco Moves to Clear Milk Bottle Caps for Easier Recycling

Two plastic milk bottles sit side by side filled with white milk

Credit: Tesco

by | Aug 24, 2023

Two plastic milk bottles sit side by side filled with white milk

(Credit: Tesco)

Tesco, a United Kingdom supermarket chain, has started using clear caps on its own-brand milk bottles to help improve recyclability.

As part of the company’s efforts to enhance recycling efforts and promote sustainability, Tesco is replacing colored plastic caps with clear ones on more than 425 million bottles of milk each year. According to Tesco, this change both simplifies the recycling process for customers and has potential environmental benefits.

Streamlining Recycling Efforts With Clear Caps

One of the key benefits of this initiative is the streamlining of the recycling process.

Colored plastic caps typically require separate processing from clear packaging materials. By introducing clear caps, Tesco simplifies the recycling process by removing that step, making it more efficient and environmentally friendly.

As a result, approximately 3,900 extra metric tons of recycled plastic can be reintroduced into the production of new bottles a year, the company said. This closed-loop recycling system not only conserves resources but also reduces the environmental impact of plastic waste, the company said.

Customer Convenience

Tesco is also putting the onus on customers to participate actively in the recycling process. Shoppers are encouraged to flatten empty milk bottles and replace the original cap before recycling. This ensures that the cap is not lost or discarded, facilitating its return to the recycling stream. Tesco hopes that the clear caps serve as a visual cue, making it easier for customers to remember to reseal their bottles before recycling.

With the switch to clear caps, Tesco assures that different variants of milk, including whole, semi-skimmed, and skimmed, will remain easily identifiable. This is thanks to colored block labels around the main bottle. 

At present, the company has removed more than 2.2 billion pieces of plastic from its U.K. business, which includes over 200 million bags from online deliveries, more than 100 million extra lids from various products, and 33 million pieces of plastic from bakery bread and doughnuts.

The news of Tesco’s clear bottle cap usage follows the announcement of the company’s 500th electric delivery van and the reduction of plastic on packaged meat.


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