Dixons Carphone, the business behind Currys PC World, has launched an industry first recycling scheme enabling customers to return expanded polystyrene (EPS) packaging to stores for recycling for free.
After a successful trial in 14 stores over a six weeks period this summer Currys PC World is rolling out the customer EPS drop-off service to all UK stores. To begin with stores will only accept EPS associated with TV packaging but the retailer will look to collect different types of EPS packaging as consumer demand and uptake increases.
This unique service will reduce the business’ carbon footprint by extending the material’s lifecycle and, as polystyrene is made from petroleum, puts less pressure on limited resources. EPS is also notoriously awkward to dispose of at home due to its volume and is very rarely recycled by local authorities with most being incinerated or ending up in landfill.
This new in-store scheme complements Currys PC World’s existing home delivery recycling service which has allowed customers to hand back their packaging to delivery drivers for over a decade1. The retailer currently recycles over a tenth of all consumer product packing polystyrene in the UK and, working with a third party2, turns compacted EPS into insulation panels for housing.
Chris Brown, Dixons Carphone, Senior Sustainability Operations and Compliance Manager, says: “We’re proud to be the first retailer to enable customers to drop off their TV packaging in stores for recycling. Now customers can have their polystyrene taken away at delivery or drop it off at one of our stores. Whatever they choose we’ll take it off their hands and ensure we reuse or recycle it in a responsible way – helping customers do their bit for the planet.”
Recyclable Packaging Ambitions
And the business isn’t stopping there. It has also recently shared its intention to make 100% of its own label products packaging reusable or recyclable by 2023.
The retailer is working closely with its own label suppliers to help develop innovative packaging solutions without plastic or EPS. Current initiatives include the trial of switching from EPS to cardboard packaging for large domestic appliances. Other initiatives include swapping polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic blister trays for paper trays, changing EPS for cardboard pulp and removing single use items such as cable ties and plug pin covers.
As a result over the last year the company removed 1.7million items of plastic packaging from its own brands, over 27 tonnes, which is the equivalent weight of over 400 washing machines. Since the start of the initiative in 2019 the company has removed nearly 3m pieces of plastic packaging. Resulting in achievements such as a completely plastic packaging free brand, ADX Gaming, a key milestone towards it 2023 target.
Product Packaging Guidance for the Retail Sector
Furthermore, Dixons Carphone has created and published its Product Packaging Guidance to share best practice with the wider industry.
The guide outlines to suppliers and other retailers preferred materials to use and which materials to avoid. The company reviewed data from sources including Waste& resource Action Programme (WRAP), the British Plastics Confederation, Government Recycling regulations and the UK Plastic Pact. Teams also engaged with specialist experts to ensure the Guidance considers today’s recycling limitations as well as future plans for materials that are currently difficult or unable to be recycled.
These latest sustainability moves are underpinned by the retailer’s longstanding commitment to recycling and its accolade of being the UK’s largest retail e-waste recycler. Customers have been able to bring any electronic item to a Currys PC World store, regardless of where it has been purchased, to be recycled for over a decade.
Moira Thomas, Group Director of Sustainability and ESG, Dixons Carphone, says: “We recognise the pressing need to improve our use of resources. We are a leader in extending the life of technology through repair, recycling and reuse and we offer customers products that help them save energy, reduce waste and save water. This EPS recycling scheme and our intention to make 100% of our own label plastic packaging reusable or recyclable by 2023 is a great example of the innovative work we do to reduce our impact on the environment. We are also pleased to share that work with our suppliers and other retailers in our Product Packaging Guidance as we all work together to reduce the energy and resources used by our industry’s operations and become more sustainable.”