Tesco UK Introduces Soft Plastic Collection Points At Large Stores
UK retailer Tesco has introduced collection points for soft plastic packaging at all its large-format stores.
The initiative aims to facilitate plastic recycling, and the supermarket hopes to collect more than 1,000 tonnes of the material annually.
The collection points will allow customers to return all their previously unrecycled soft plastics, such as the clear film used to wrap meat and fish, crisp packets, fruit and vegetable bags and sweet wrappers.
Most councils do not collect soft plastic from homes for recycling and it ends up as waste, Tesco noted.
Marcus Gover, CEO of WRAP, said, "Tackling plastic bags and wrapping is the UK Plastics Pact's number one priority, and increasing front of store collection points is a great step forward. As little as 6% of this problematic plastic is collected and recycled in the UK, despite making up nearly a quarter of all plastic packaging by weight.
"By offering shoppers a simple and consistent collections system, Tesco is helping to ensure that much more of this problem plastic is captured and goes on to be recycled. I welcome this move, which will help considerably towards the UK Plastics Pact's target of increasing plastic recycling."
The rollout follows a successful 171-store trial in Wales and the South West earlier this year, where close to a tonne of soft plastic was collected each day.
Customers in the trial stores said they liked the convenience of combining recycling with their shopping. Around 85% of respondents said the initiative helped them to recycle more than they would have done otherwise.
Bread bags, fruit and vegetables packaging, crisp packets, and salad bags were the most common items returned during the trial, the retailer added.
Director of quality at Tesco, Sarah Bradbury, said, "We're tackling the impact of plastics by removing and reducing it as much as possible, helping customers move to reusable alternatives, and ensuring they can recycle everything that's left.
"I'm delighted that we're rolling out collection points to the whole of the country so even more customers can help us stop plastic from going to waste."
Plastic packaging collected by Tesco is sent for recycling, where it is washed, sorted and recycled into new products and packaging.
The retailer directs the collected material between recyclers, packaging producers and suppliers.
In a recent sample, Tesco recovered over 80% of the soft plastic returned by customers. It is now working with recyclers to explore what can be done with the remaining 20%.