The saving has been made by switching from the traditional square block shape to rectangular packaging, and also by removing the current re-sealable zip.
New 400g pack sizes are replacing 460g packs and both they and existing 220g packs have had their re-sealable zip removed.
Nearly 40 lines of Tesco’s own brand territorial hard cheeses have been re-formatted.
The plastic saving will also be achieved by Tesco ditching the plastic trays in which the cheeses are delivered and they will now be sent in a new cardboard shelf-ready format.
The company said the price per kilo of the cheeses has not changed.
The move comes in advance of the key festive shopping period – the busiest time of the year for cheese sales – and Tesco calculates it will save 11 tonnes in plastic in just two weeks before Christmas.
Tesco cheese buying manager Peter Wood said, “This is a revolutionary move for the UK cheese industry because the iconic square shaped cheese packs have been around for decades.
“By changing the pack shape and also removing the re-sealable zip we will be able to reduce plastic packaging on our brand hard cheeses by up to 41% against the former product, depending on the size of the block.
“Another benefit to customers is that these new chunkier pack sizes are easier to handle so cutting, grating and slicing will be simpler.”
The move is part of the supermarket’s ongoing 4Rs (Remove, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) strategy set up to remove excess and non-recyclable material from its business and recycle the rest. Tesco set a target in 2019 to remove 1bn pieces of plastic by the end of 2020, and has so far permanently removed around 800m pieces as tinned multipacks, secondary lids and the small bags used to pack loose fruit and veg have all been removed.
Earlier this year, Tesco teamed up with Loop on a trial that brings products to customers’ doors in reusable packaging, cutting down on plastic waste.
Lines included in the re-packaging move include: Tesco Extra Mature Cheddar 400g, Tesco Red Leicester 400g, Tesco Double Gloucester 400g, Tesco 50% Reduced Fat Mature Cheese 220g and Tesco Welsh Mild Cheddar 220g.
Also included will be eight of Tesco’s Creamfields 400g own brand Cheddar cheeses.
The new pack sizes are currently being sent out to all of Tesco’s UK stores.