Soft plastic recycling at Aldi UK

Soft plastic recycling: Aldi rolls out in-store plastic collection across UK

Supermarket chain Aldi is set to introduce soft plastic recycling bins to collect ‘difficult-to-recycle’ plastics in almost all its UK stores.

The move follows a successful trial in several stores last year, and aims to help customers recycle tonnes of what it describes as “problem materials” that would otherwise end up in landfill or incineration sites.

Shoppers at Aldi can now bring back all types of clean, soft plastic packaging – including crisp packets, salad bags, bread bags and carrier bags – regardless of where the items were bought.

The supermarket expects to collect up to 1,000 tonnes of plastic a year once the bins are fully installed in more than 800 stores nationwide – a target it promised to have reached by the end of 2022.

[editor’s note – Green Retail World has requested information from Aldi about the recycling process and its partners]

Many retailers, including Co-op, Tesco, and Sainsbury’s, have started collecting soft plastics in their stores over the last few years as most local authorities do not currently pick up the material at curbside. Marks & Spencer (M&S) has been collecting plastic film, bags and food wrap since 2019 and processing it in its distribution centres, recycling it into shop fittings and – in some cases – materials used in children’s playgrounds.

Green Retail World has covered news of these soft plastic recycling schemes in detail – check out the video our editor produced on M&S’s work in this space.

Richard Gorman, plastics & packaging director at Aldi UK, commented: “We are always striving to reduce plastic waste wherever possible, and we know how important this is to our customers.

“This rollout is a step in the right direction and provides our shoppers with an easy option to recycle their problematic soft plastic packaging in the UK.”

Helen Bird, head of business collaboration at waste prevention organisation Wrap, said: “A fifth of the plastic packaging that we’re all left with at home is plastic bags and wrapping.

“There are opportunities to reduce this, but where plastic is used, packaging design needs to be simplified and recycling systems are needed. In future years, this packaging will be collected directly from people’s homes and places of work, but solutions are urgently needed today to tackle the growing mountain of waste.”

She added: “Many citizens have shown that they are willing to take plastic bags and wrapping to their local food stores for recycling, and this move by Aldi means that more people across the UK will be able to do just that.”

Aldi announced today that its profit fell in 2021, citing investment in prices, people and pandemic-related expenses.

Pre-tax profit of £264.8 million in 2020 dropped to £35.7 million last year, but the retailer is confident in its proposition as the cost of living crisis continues to intensify in the UK. The grocer said it attracted 1.5 million extra customers to its stores in the past 12 weeks as squeezed shoppers abandoned traditional supermarkets in search of lower prices.

Aldi recently became the fourth largest grocer in the UK, in terms of market share as monitored by grocery research group Kantar. By usurping Morrisons, it has broken the long-running UK grocery market dominance of the so-called ‘Big Four’ Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons.

[Image credit: Aldi UK]

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