Tesco is rolling out ‘soft plastic’ recycling points for old packaging - how it works

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 4:49 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 4:49 pm
The recycling points have started being put in place in 171 stores (Photo: Shutterstock)

Tesco has started rolling out “soft plastic” recycling points to allow customers to recycle old packaging, including bread bags, pet food pouches and crisp packets.

The recycling points have started being put in place in 171 stores in the south-west of England and Wales, with plans to introduce it to all large stores nationwide following a successful trial in 10 shops.

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How does it work?

Once collected, the soft plastic packaging brought back by customers is then sent for recycling.

The items will be washed, sorted and processed before being turned into new packaging for food, household and beauty products.

The supermarket said the trial has seen customers return more than 10 times the expected amount of plastic, with bread bags, fruit and vegetable packaging, crisp packets, salad bags, baby and pet food pouches topping the list of items returned.

Material that has already been collected has since been used to produce food grade packaging for a selection of Tesco cheese.

Recycling 1,000 tonnes per year

Tesco has said the move would provide the UK’s biggest network of recycling points for soft plastic, which is not commonly recycled by councils in kerbside collections and often ends up in the bin.

It expects to collect and recycle 1,000 tonnes of plastic a year through the scheme, with consumers allowed to return all their soft plastic, regardless of where they bought it.

Tesco’s director of quality, Sarah Bradbury, said: “It is an absolute priority to remove and reduce as much plastic as possible and ensure everything we use is recycled and kept out of the environment.

“Where plastic serves an important purpose such as reducing food waste, these new recycling points make sure that every piece can be easily recycled.

“Trials have shown they are popular with customers, so we believe rolling them out at scale will have a real impact.”

The move has been welcomed by environmental charity WWF, whose sustainable materials specialist Paula Chin said: “Plastic pollution is one of the most visible symptoms of the environmental crisis and is devastating our natural world.

“Businesses, governments and households have all got an important part to play in tackling the issue, so it’s encouraging to see Tesco extending their successful soft plastics collection trial across more of their stores, giving their customers even more opportunity to recycle these valuable materials.”