Co-op launches Europe’s most extensive recycling scheme for plastic bags, crisp packets and food wrappings

12th July 2021 | Recycling

The Co-op has announced the launch of what it calls ‘Europe’s most extensive in-store recycling scheme’ for plastic bags and product wrapping. The rollout of the scheme is aims to see the convenience retailer become first UK supermarket to have fully recyclable food packaging by the end of this month (July) and, help tackle the confusing postcode lottery of kerbside collections.

Recycling units for ‘soft’ plastics will launch in 1,500 Co-op stores this month (July) and 2,300 stores by November. The initiative ensures all Co-op’s own food packing is easily recyclable by establishing an accessible disposal route for materials which are unlikely to be collected by UK councils, including: crisp packets, bread bags, single-use carrier bags and bags-for-life, lids from ready meals and yogurt pots, biscuit wrappers and pet-food pouches.

The in-store units – which also accept packaging for food products purchased in other retailers – means that all of Co-op’s own food packaging is easy-to-recycle either via kerbside collection or through the in-house closed loop system. The retailer estimates that 300 tonnes of plastic bags and food wrapping could be collected per year once the bins are fully in place.

Recycling scheme

The national roll-out of the scheme follows a successful 50 store film collection trial last year which found that 86% of shoppers were likely to use the service. It is also designed to reassure concerned communities that the plastics collected will be recycled in the UK. The recyclable material is turned, by Jayplas, into post-consumer plastic granules which are then made into useful secondary products – including: bin liners; rigid products such as buckets, and material for the construction industry – rather than flooding land-fill sites, going to incineration or, being shipped overseas.

By offering a simple and convenient solution to an everyday issue, we believe we can help communities to make small changes, that together will add up to a big difference for our environment. In some areas, less than 30 per cent of waste from households is currently recycled, with systems which can vary from council to council adding to the confusion. Estimates from WRAP suggest that just 6% of plastic bags and wrapping from UK households is recycled each year, while (by weight) it makes up around a fifth of all plastic packaging. The elimination of unnecessary plastics is balanced against the need to minimise food waste.

More information available on the website below

Co-op launches Europe’s ‘most extensive’ recycling scheme for plastic bags, crisp packets and food wrappings