De-paperization? Tesco trial removes cardboard packaging from branded toothpaste tubes

Image source: Tesco

De-paperization? Tesco trial removes cardboard packaging from branded toothpaste tubes

Thomas Reiner | 04.11.2022

Tesco is launching a pilot trial in the UK to reduce cardboard waste. To this end, the folding carton is being removed without replacement from toothpaste brands such as Oral B, Sensodyne and Colgate. If the largest retail chain in the UK is leading the way in this way, it is already a sign. Consumers increasingly perceive secondary packaging as a superfluous nuisance. At the same time, they are a logical target in the efforts of retailers and brands to reduce the resource input and climate impact of their products. For the folding carton industry, it is now: Open your eyes and act! Secondary packaging made of cardboard must become primary packaging with the help of recyclable barriers and protective functions. Otherwise, there is a threat of trouble. After all, the approach taken with toothpaste can be transferred to many other areas and segments.



Tesco had already decided in November 2021 to remove cardboard secondary packaging from its private label toothpaste. As of 2022, Britain’s supermarket chain is now igniting the next stage in cooperation with major toothpaste brands – and is also doing away with the folding box in almost UK-30 stores for brands such as Oral B, Sensodyne, Colgate, Aquafresh and Corsodyl.


Resource and climate effects

Eliminating secondary packaging on its toothpaste private label brands has saved 55 tons of cardboard annually, according to Tesco. The company hopes to increase that figure to 680 tons annually by eliminating folding toothpaste cartons from branded products and other stores.

At the same time, Tesco says the removal of “unnecessary packaging” also means that more tubes can be transported in the same space, helping to take delivery trucks off the road and saving CO2 accordingly.

Reducing toothpaste packaging to its essential elements is part of Tesco’s 4R packaging strategy, which has already saved more than 3,000 tons of packaging per year since 2019 by removing, reducing, reusing and recycling, according to the company.


Customer feedback

Tesco reports very positive feedback from consumers on the removal of secondary packaging from its own brands in November last year. Officials say they are convinced the move makes sense for customers because the first thing they throw away when buying toothpaste is the cardboard packaging.


The secondary packaging…

Secondary packaging almost automatically comes into focus when retailers and brands, as well as consumers, start looking for “superfluous” packaging. This also applies to packaging materials made from renewable raw materials. Consumers’ material sympathy for paper and cardboard decreases rapidly when secondary packaging is involved.

The fact is that by saving on secondary packaging, you can make a contribution to many factors: One serves the customer’s desire, reduces raw material requirements and costs, and reduces one’s own carbon footprint.


… needs primary functions

The drive to reduce resource consumption and climate impact necessarily leads to an attempt to reduce packaging. For the folding carton as secondary packaging, this means that it must transform itself – and virtually become primary packaging, ensuring direct product protection itself while remaining fully recyclable.


Sustainability beats POS performance.

For the folding carton industry, Tesco’s initiative with toothpaste should be a wake-up call. After all, the approach can be transferred to many other areas. Can’t cereals, for example, only be put on the shelves packaged in pouches? The arguments are there – and when in doubt, sustainability beats POS performance.

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