Supermarket uses blockchain technology to fight plastic pollution


In 2023, Tesco, a leading multinational supermarket, and Keep Sea Blue, an international non-profit, unveiled an innovative project powered by blockchain technology to reduce plastic pollution. With this collaboration, Tesco’s project aims to use discarded plastic collected from at-risk coastal areas for fresh fish packaging, with an immediate goal of incorporating at least 30% Recycled Coastal Plastic into the packaging for salmon, haddock, cod, and sea bass. This initiative is expected to annually remove about 500 metric tonnes of plastic from the environment and significantly reduce the need for ‘virgin plastic.’. The plastic is sourced through a transparent, traceable process certified by their partner Keep Sea Blue, involving a network of collectors and recycling operations across the Mediterranean. 

Indeed, a custom blockchain solution ensures transparency and traceability, confirming that the recycled plastics are authentically sourced from clean-up efforts. This initiative marks a significant step in sustainable retail, integrating environmental protection into packaging, beginning with Tesco’s fresh fish products. The expected result is an important reduction in plastic pollution and a shift towards more sustainable packaging practices.

Importance of Reducing Plastic Packaging:

Nowadays, it is more than urgent to reduce plastic usage. Indeed, some alarming statistics show the importance of recycling and reducing waste: global plastic production has surged from 2 million tonnes in 1950 to over 450 million tonnes, significantly impacting the environment when mismanaged. Approximately 350 million tonnes of plastic waste are generated yearly, with 0.5% ending up in oceans, contributing to a crisis affecting wildlife and ecosystems​​. Furthermore, the recycling rate for plastic waste is very low at just 9%, with half of the world’s plastic waste going to landfills and an important portion not being managed properly, increasing the risk of pollution in water sources (sea, river etc..)

How can blockchain promote sustainable recycling?

Due to its intrinsic properties, blockchain brings transparency, immutability and traceability, key characterics that are crucial for enhancing the process of recycling and other environmental initiatives like Tesco’s plastic recycling project. By providing a tamper-proof, auditable ledger, blockchain ensures that every piece of recycled plastic is verifiably sourced from clean-up efforts. This transparency not only bolsters consumer trust in the sustainability of products but also sets a standard for other companies to adopt environmentally responsible practices, fostering a more sustainable and ethical approach to managing and reducing plastic waste in the retail industry.

Who is Keep Sea Blue and what do they do?

Keep Sea Blue is an international organization dedicated to preserving the Mediterranean Sea by transforming collected seaside plastic into “Recovered Seaside Plastic,” a sustainable alternative to virgin plastic. Essentially, it is a is a certified recycled raw material made from plastic waste collected. They certify the entire process using a robust blockchain platform, ensuring traceability and integrity. This commitment to environmental protection and circular economy principles is fundamental to their partnership with Tesco, aiming to mitigate plastic pollution and promote sustainable practices within the retail industry.

Through training with their Blockchain Platform and Certification Programme, Keep Sea Blue empowers manufacturer and brand owners to provide their customers with complete traceability and transparency about a product’s origin and circular journey – from plastic waste, to recycled raw material, to finished product.

Benefits & Outcomes
  • Enhances supply chain transparency and trust
  • Promotes sustainable and scalable recycling solutions
  • Supports compliance with environmental regulations
  • Improves consumer awareness and education
  • Facilitates data integrity and traceability in recycling processes
  • Keeps plastic away from the sea
  • Empowers manufacturers and brand owners to have the means to provide transparency to customers
Further Info

Tesco has started using recycled coastal plastic in some of its fish packaging, with the recycling verified using blockchain technology. “Where we can, we are reducing the amount of new plastic we use in our business,” said Sarah Bradbury, Tesco Quality Director. “Re-using coastal plastic in our fish packaging is one way we can do that and at the same time keep it out of the oceans.”


Project is currently in pilot stage.  From January 2024, UK’s Tesco supermarket will start using recycled coastal plastic in some of its fish packaging, with the recycling verified using the aforementioned blockchain solution

Research by Alexandre in December 2023

© Antony Welfare 2024