Will Tesco egg boxes go eggs-tinct?


ten eggs in a open box on white, clipping path includet

A cracking idea? Get rid of leaky egg boxes and replace them with eco-friendly plastic ones. It's what Britain's biggest egg seller, Tesco, is planning. Britain's biggest grocer claims the switch could stop more than 1m eggs going to waste every year. The retailer has trialled the packaging in nearly 200 stores in the Livingston area in Scotland and Belfast, with good results.

The move could egg on other retailers to change too. But haven't you seen this change before?

Un oeuf cardboard

Currently Tesco free range eggs are sold in pulp papier-mâché cartons. If an egg breaks in transit it can seep through the box, damaging packs beneath. But if an egg breaks in the new eco-friendly packs, the seepage can be contained. That's the theory.

"The results of the trial are very positive and we hope to be able to roll out the packaging by the end of the year." Tesco claims the new cartons will take up less space during transportation, less shelf space in store and will also cut CO2.

Tesco's eggs-ample

Roll back 20 years ago, says Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research, "it was quite common to have eggs in plastic. So this is going back to the future. I'm sure they're [Tesco] right, that it will reduce the breakage of eggs, but there's a lot of breakages in store with customers fiddling around with them."

However eggs sitting in papier-mâché boxes look more rural and 'natural'. Free range eggs sheathed in plastic - even eco-friendly plastic - looks rather more industrial. "I think people will watch Tesco and see how they do," says Bamfield. "If it's a success then everyone will do it."

Bamfield says all the big supermarkets are attempting to bolster their green credentials. "Whilst people like the Co-op and M&S get environmental awards, my feeling is that all the supermarkets, including Asda-Wal-Mart, are doing better."

Not all white

Tesco sells 1.3bn eggs a year. Other recycling moves are also being introduced. For example, Asda, has used gas permeable packaging film for new potatoes, upping shelf life and cutting waste. However food waste remains a huge problem more generally.

Last year it was revealed that nearly 70% of bagged sales are never eaten. Bags of apples also routinely head for the bin; many bakery products also go unused.