M&S has launched a new ‘plastic take-back’ scheme for customers to return non-recyclable plastic packaging into which it will breathe new life.
Recycling bins will accept a variety of plastic packaging, including black ready-meal trays, crisp packets, sauce sachets and certain cosmetic containers - all of which typically end up in landfill because councils do not recycle them.
The retailer will roll out the bins, which will be made from recycled plastic collected through the first eight stores, to its outlets across the UK by the end of 2019.
It will give collected plastic a new lease of life by recycling it into store fittings, furniture and school playground equipment with the help of the Dow Chemical Company, a leader in plastics technology.
The initial food and beauty halls to launch the bins are at M&S stores in Tolworth, south-west London; Cribbs Causeway, Patchway, Bristol; Westfield Stratford, east London; Waterside, west London; Loughton, Essex; Bluewater, Kent; Fosse Park, Leicester; and Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.
The scheme was initially tested at the Tolworth store, where M&S has removed plastic packaging from more than 90 lines of fruit and vegetables and introduced greengrocers to the shop floor.
The retailer will also introduce recycling collection points at primary schools across the country in collaboration with Wastebuster, the waste education social enterprise.
M&S will ensure all of its packaging is widely recyclable by 2022, which will see it remove 1,700 tonnes of black plastic packaging by this spring.
“As we continue to work towards our plastic reduction goals, we want to go a step further and help our customers and the next generation to have a real impact on the environment,” said M&S senior packaging technologist Laura Fernandez.
“Customers often don’t know how best to recycle certain types of plastic or where it goes after being collected by local councils,” she said.
M&S was “on a mission” to provide a greater awareness of landfill avoidance and plastic recyclability, while ultimately helping its customers to give plastic a new purpose and support a truly circular economy, Fernandez added.