A deposit return scheme will see reverse vending machines appear in shops across the UK

Plastic collection: Sainsbury’s takes packaging recycling scheme nationwide

UK grocer Sainsbury’s has announced 520 of its stores across the UK will now offer a flexible plastic packaging recycling scheme.

The move comes after the retailer completed a successful trial, which started in the north-east of England in February.

The packaging recycling scheme enables consumers to deposit items such as used crisp packets, food pouches, salad bags and biscuit and cake wrappers in bins based within Sainsbury’s stores. Most local authorities do no currently accept this material in curbside collections.

Sainsbury’s told Green Retail World at the time of the trial that the plastic is sorted and recycled into pellets for use in “injection moulded applications” for manufacturing items such as dustpans, buckets and flower pots. It is still keeping its cards close to its chest regarding the compliance and recycling partners involved in the programme. 

According to the retailer, the expanded initiative has the potential to significantly decrease the amount of plastic packaging going to landfill. It cited a report from waste prevention charity Wrap, which estimated flexible film contributed towards 290,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste in 2019.

Sainsbury’s describes its packaging recycling scheme as a “market-leading recycling system”, which is perhaps why the company is coy about revealing its partners for the initiaive.

Claire Hughes, director of product & innovation at Sainsbury’s, commented: “Making recycling easier for our customers is a key part of our strategy to minimise the impact of single-use plastics on the environment, alongside our own ambitious target of reducing the use of plastics in our own operations by 50% by 2025.”

Sainsbury’s has also been announced as the principal supermarket partner for the United Nation’s international climate change conference, COP26, which takes place this November in Glasgow.

The list of flexible plastic film accepted in Sainsbury’s stores as part of the packaging recycling scheme is listed below. The supermarket chain said the items should be clean and free from food and with sticky labels removed as much as possible.

“Other food” flexible plastic

  • Cheese wrappers
  • Peelable film lids & frozen food bags
  • Bags and wrappings used for fruits, vegetables, salads and flowers
  • Multipack film wrap, Clingfilm & Sleeves on bottles

“Dry food” flexible plastic

  • Cereal bags
  • Bread bags
  • Rice
  • Dry food wrappers
  • Confectionery, biscuit and cake wrappers
  • Crisp and snack packets

“Non-food” flexible pouches

  • All carrier bags
  • Clothing bags
  • Bubble wrap
  • Magazines and newspaper wrappers
  • Toilet roll and kitchen roll wrapping

Pouches and sachets

  • Coffee
  • Homecare
  • Sauce pouches
  • Baby, pet food & microwaveable food pouches
  • Toiletries refill pouches, packets & sachets

[Image credit: Sainsbury’s]

9 thoughts on “Plastic collection: Sainsbury’s takes packaging recycling scheme nationwide”

  1. Most employees at Bishop Auckland are not aware you do this type of recycling in-house. They always say NO until I persuade them otherwise and they have to ring for other staff. No recycling bins are at Customer Service desk as this store.

  2. Please would you investigate this farce! None of my local stores have any publicity about this new scheme and all that has been done is for small signs to be added to their very small bins that normally take plastic bags for recycling which are always full!

  3. The Sainsbury’s store at Forestside in Belfast is listed as having this facility but I couldn’t find it, nor did the member of staff I asked about it know anything about it, so I ended up taking my bag of plastic to a nearby Tesco store

  4. It’s a complete farce! Sainsbury’s really need to sort this mess out! Sainsbury’s made a big announcement but their staff don’t know about it, the collection provision is very poor and there is no public information in store.

  5. I brought my flexible packaging waste to Sainsburys in Charlton last week, and was told they had not renewed their contract, so couldn’t take it. Tonight I took 4 large bags of carefully collected flexible packaging waste to Sainsburys in Lee Green. They had absolutely no clue, even though there was a sign in front of their noses saying that they were part of the scheme. Eventually they found the collection bin,which was far too small to take my bags. I left the bags on the flour next to it and 10 min later they had vanished, probably dumped in the general waste bin. I have a very comical photo of the staff stating bewildered at the notice. But as others mentioned on this chat, it’s a joke.

  6. Very frustrating. The major supermarkets and the manufacturers (Purina for example) and Terracycle boast of their green credentials and claim that they operate recycling schemes for pet food pouches. But pinning them down produces nothing of any relevance or blank looks. Since these pouches appear to be the majority packaging, this is irresponsible.

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