UK supermarket chain Tesco has this week announced it’s completed installation of recycling collection points for soft and flexible plastics at all of its UK store locations. These kinds of plastics are not typically recycled by local councils, and so often find their way to landfill or incineration sites. According to the Waste and Resources Action Plan (known as WRAP), recycling rates for flexible plastics in the UK currently sit at around 6%.
The installation follows the supermarket’s successful trialling of the points in 2020, during which customers were reported to return more than ten times the expected amount of waste plastic. Plastic included in the initiative includes bread bags, crisp packets and sweet wrappers, and it is hoped that under the new scheme more than 1,000 tonnes of the material will be collected for recycling each year.
“We’re tackling the impact of plastics by removing and reducing it as much as possible, helping customers move to reusable alternatives, and ensuring they can recycle everything that’s left,” Tesco’s director of quality Sarah Bradbury said. “I’m delighted that we’re rolling out collection points to the whole of the country so even more customers can help us stop plastic from going to waste.”
Tesco began adding these recycling points to stores in March this year, initially rolling them out across Wales and the South West of England. In these trial stores, 85% of customers polled said the scheme helped them recycle more than they usually do, with the majority also adding that they found it convenient to combine their recycling with their shopping.
Once collected, the plastics are washed and sorted before being sent to a recycler. Tesco has also committed to ensuring none of the waste ends up in landfill, primarily through energy-from-waste initiatives. In a recent sample, 80% of the plastic collected was recycled and 20% was sent to energy-from-waste generation facilities.