By the end of the year, a much larger proportion of the UK population will be able to take all types of plastic bag and wrapping into their local supermarkets to be collected for sorting and recycling.
That was a statement issued this week by waste prevention charity Wrap, which has issued new guidance showing how many more retailers can introduce consistent collections for more types of flexible plastic packaging – helping to divert more of it from landfill or incineration.
Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Co-op are among the retailers already offering soft plastic collection points in some of their stores. But the path is clear for all supermarkets to offer these recycling facilities because they are signed up to the UK Plastics Pact, according to Wrap.
The Wrap guidance maps out how all supermarkets can collect items like salad bags, crisp packets, biscuit wrappers bread bags and frozen food bags, for recycling.
Currently, while many supermarkets provide front of store recycling points for polytene and plastic bag disposal, Wrap said there is confusion among people in the UK about whether flexible plastic packaging can be recycled at all. The charity added that plastic bag and wrapping searches are common on its Recycle Now website, suggesting there is consumer demand to dispose of this material responsibly.
The guidance calls for consistency in language and ease of use when setting up plastic recycling. Wrap also highlights that design of packaging plays a critical role, and urged businesses to move packaging into simpler ‘mono-material’ design.
The guide also stresses that businesses play a critical role in stipulating recycled content in products and packaging wherever possible, in order to create the demand for the recycled plastic.
Marcus Gover, CEO of Wrap, said: “I am delighted that, through the UK Plastics Pact, the proportion of the population able to recycle all types of plastic bags and wrapping at supermarkets is on the increase, and we expect that by the end of the year it will be widely available.
“It is a critical step forwards when just 6% of plastics bags and wrapping currently get recycled – despite making up 22% of all plastic packaging by weight. Ensuring that consumers have consistent information on where to recycle plastic bags and wrappers is also critical.”
Mike Maxwell, operations director at UK plastic bag and wrapping recycler Jayplas, remarked: “Our film sortation plant will sort this material by polymer type and colour and will contribute towards the UK significantly – increasing its recycling rates under the aims of the UK Plastics Pact.”
Mike Baxter, external affairs director at plastics recycler Berry Group, added: “Having already recycled front of store collected plastic packaging, we well understand the challenges. We have proved these materials can be recycled and most importantly, re-manufactured into new packaging.”
[Image credit: Green Retail World]