Following a successful test run, the Tesco retail chain is setting up a large collection network for soft plastic in its own stores in the UK. The aim is to collect and recycle up to 1,000 tons of the material per year.
In the UK, packaging made from soft plastics is not commonly collected by local councils and it therefore often goes to landfill. The Tesco retail chain has now started to set up collection points for it in 171 stores in the southwest of England and in Wales. The aim is to introduce them in all major stores nationwide. Tesco says it is the first network of this size specifically designed to collect and then recycle soft plastics.
The collection points allow customers to return all soft plastic packaging in their local store – regardless of where they purchased the respective products. After collection, the plastic is washed, sorted and processed at a recycling company. The material will then be reused to package food, household and beauty products.
Recycled material is food grade
The rollout follows a successful trial in ten stores in which customers returned more than ten times the expected amount of plastic. The most commonly returned items during the trial included bread bags, fruit and vegetable packaging, salad bags and baby and pet food pouches. The recycled material has already been used to make food-grade packaging for a selection of Tesco cheeses.
“Where plastic serves an important purpose such as reducing food waste, these new recycling points make sure that every piece can be easily recycled,” says Sarah Bradbury, director of quality at Tesco. “We believe rolling them out at scale will have a real impact.”