Co-op is launching a trial to uncover the number of its own-brand plastic bottles that are being recycled to improve its understanding of true recycling figures to help benchmark future rates for the industry.
The UK’s leading convenience retailer is working in partnership with Polytag – a technology business that enables a circular economy for packaging – to collect recycling data that will showcase the exact number of Co-op bottles that are being sorted at recycling centres. Co-op will be the first brand in the world to start collecting data in this way.
As part of this trial, Co-op will add a UV invisible code to the label of one of its best-selling own-brand spring water lines. When the bottle reaches a specific recycling centre in North Wales, the UV code will be identified by specialist equipment that is fitted to the sorting machines and the data collected will be uploaded in real-time to a cloud.
Matt Hood, MD, Co-op Food, said: “We all have our part to play when it comes to recycling and, as a retailer, we want to gain a greater understanding on a product’s journey in the recycling chain to help paint a clearer picture and support future traceability.
“This new trial will enable Co-op to gather valuable insight to provide guidance and measurement for future initiatives to encourage more people to recycle and it will also support the industry with true benchmarks for recycling rates in the UK for the very first time.”
Alice Rackley, CEO, Polytag, said: “We’ve optimised the UV tag reading technology so that brands can apply a simple UV tag layer to their labels and get never-before-seen data about how many of their single-use items of plastic packaging are being handled in a material recovery facility.
“We’re absolutely delighted that Co-op has agreed to work with Polytag to continue to develop and deliver technology that will enable us to all recycle more, together.”
Polytag is working in partnership with UK devolved governments and recycling facility operators to extend the roll out and installation of more UV tag readers across the country, in order to deliver richer more useful data to brands – such as Co-op – that want to know if single-use packaging is getting recycled, and measure success of initiatives designed to improve recycling rates over time.
Last year Co-op announced that all of its own brand food packaging is 100% recyclable, in part thanks to its in-store recycling scheme for soft plastics. In addition to this, all of Co-op’s own-brand still, sparkling, flavoured water, carbonated drinks and mixers are made out of 100% recycled material, meaning they’re fully recycled and recyclable.
Co-op will start the UV label trial with its 2lt still spring water line and will look to expand further as the trial develops.
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