Sainsbury's announces new plastic recycling initiative

Polypropylene pilot: Sainsbury’s trials new in-store plastic recycling service

Sainsbury’s has started a trial of a new plastic recycling system, which allows its customers to responsibly dispose of polypropylene (PP) film in the company’s stores.

A total of 63 shops across north-east England have adopted the trial, which the grocer claimed is the largest PP film recycling trial in the UK supermarket industry. Earlier this month, Tesco Ireland launched a similar service in its 151 stores, which allows shoppers to dispose of film wrap for recycling.

Common items packaged with PP film include salad and frozen food bags, and these can now be dropped off at dedicated points in the participating Sainsbury’s shops once they’ve served their purpose. Sainsbury’s said all film will be collected, sorted and mechanically recycled by its partner, Eurokey Recycling.

Sainsbury’s told Green Retail World the PP film is sorted and recycled into pellets for use in “injection moulded applications” for manufacturing items such as dustpans, buckets and flower pots.

PP film currently isn’t accepted by most councils in the UK, but the Sainsbury’s plastic recycling trial will allow consumers to drop the wrapping in the front-of-store collection points already in place for polyethylene film and carrier bags. These are already found in over 600 supermarkets across the UK.

If the trial is successful, the PP film collection system will be rolled out to all its supermarkets by the end of 2021.

The PE, low density PE and PP plastic film accepted in participating Sainsbury’s supermarkets are, as follows:

  • All carrier bags
  • Bread bags
  • Cereal bags
  • Bags and wrappings used for fruits, vegetables, salads and flowers
  • Bottle and can multipack wrapping
  • Biscuit and cake wrappers
  • Toilet roll & kitchen roll wrapping
  • Rice and dry food wrappers
  • Cheese wrappers
  • Frozen food bags
  • Household item wrapping
  • Clothing bags
  • Magazine and newspaper wrappers.

Claire Hughes, director of product & innovation at Sainsbury’s, commented: “We hope that by trialling flexible film recycling points in our stores and accepting more of the packaging that our customers may be unable to recycle at home, we are helping our customers reduce plastic waste.

“We’ll listen to feedback from our colleagues and customers before we roll out the flexible plastic packaging recycling scheme wider.”

She added: “As we work to reduce, reuse, replace and recycle plastic packaging, we’ll continue to find collaborations, working with our suppliers, academics and organisations such as Wrap to explore innovative ways to reduce and recycle more of our packaging.”

David Moon, head of business collaboration at Wrap, which this week launched a guide to clothing retailers about how to provide garment take-back schemes in their stores, said: “Developing solutions to overcome the challenge of recycling flexible plastic packaging is a priority for The UK Plastics Pact.

“Collection points for films at these Sainsbury’s stores is an important step in the right direction, building on their trials of polyethylene film collections.”

He added: “We need all supermarkets to collect all plastic films, adopt consistent messaging and share their insights to make this work. Wrap urges other retailers to ensure that flexible plastic packaging can be easily collected for recycling throughout the UK.”

[Image credit: Sainsbury’s]

Updated: 12:54, 22 February 2021

Updated: 18:01, 23 February 2021

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