Shoppers will be able to recycle ‘scrunchable’ plastic film quickly and easily thanks to a new in-store film collection scheme from the Co-op, which is set to be trialled in selected stores from 8 September.
The initiative forms part of a major 50-store roll out which aims to tackle plastic pollution and establish an accessible disposal route for the material, which is not currently collected by UK councils.
In-store collection points will accept all types of clean, ‘scrunchy’ plastic film – from any brand or retailer – including plastic carrier bags, lids from ready meals and yoghurt pots, wine box inners, chocolate, cake and biscuit wrappers, fruit and vegetable flow wrap and toilet roll wrappers.
Messaging around ‘clean it, scrunch it, bin it’ will feature on store signage in a bid to educate consumers on what to do with their waste plastic. The deposited film waste will then go on to be sorted and where possible, processed into waste disposal bin liners for use in Co-op stores.
Estimates from WRAP suggest that 760,000 tonnes of plastic film end up in UK waste streams every year, with half originating from households.
Co-op, which makes over 750 million pieces of plastic film annually, will trial the initiative across stores in the south of England, before rolling it out across the rest of its estate early next year, making it the largest film collection scheme of its kind in the UK.
Jo Whitfield, Co-op Food CEO, said: “We want to make it easy for households to recycle all of their plastic food packaging, to prevent unnecessary waste and reduce pollution. Flimsy plastic film has long been a problem and people are rightly confused as to whether it can be recycled or if it should go straight in the bin.
“We’re pleased to be trialling a proposal that we hope offers a simple solution to an everyday issue. Learnings will help us to prompt a positive change in consumer behaviour over the coming months, ahead of our national roll out next year.”
Peter Maddox, Director at WRAP, said: “Plastic bags and wrapping make up a quarter of all plastic packaging bought today* but only four per cent is recycled. These plastics are light-weight yet bulky, and with few local authorities collecting them, it is frustrating for people at home to fill their bins with unrecycled packaging. This is why all members of The UK Plastics Pact have pledged to make all plastic packaging recyclable by 2025. It’s great to see Co-op helping to cut through the confusion and accepting all types of plastic bags and wrapping at their stores.”
The move forms part of Co-op’s ambition to make 100% of its own brand packaging easy-to-recycle either via kerbside collection or an in-house closed loop system by 2021.
The Co-op has always been at the forefront of removing hidden plastic and unnecessary packaging, from removing plastic stems from cotton buds before any other retailer 14 years ago, to banning microbeads and removing plastic straws. Almost three out of four own-brand Co-op products are now widely recyclable with black plastic being banned from shelves in 2019.