The Co-op has launched a film recycling scheme in a bid to tackle plastic pollution.
Shoppers will be able to recycle ‘scrunchable’ plastic to new in-store collection points that are being trialled in 50 stores from today.
It hopes to establish an accessible disposal route for the material, which is currently not collected by UK councils.
The collection points will accept all types of clean, ‘scrunchy’ plastic film, from any brand or retailer, including plastic carrier bags, lids from ready meals and yoghurt pots, wine box inners, chocolate, cake and biscuit wrappers, fruit & vegetable flow wrap and toilet roll wrappers.
A ‘clean it, scrunch it, bin it’ message will feature on store signage in a bid to educate consumers on what to do with their waste plastic.
The deposited film waste will then go on to be sorted and where possible, processed into waste disposal bin liners for use in Co-op stores.
Co-op will trial the initiative across stores in the south of England, before rolling it out across the rest of its estate early next year, making it the largest film collection scheme of its kind in the UK, it said.
“We want to make it easy for households to recycle all of their plastic food packaging, to prevent unnecessary waste and reduce pollution,” said Co-op Food CEO Jo Whitfield.
“Flimsy plastic film has long been a problem and people are rightly confused as to whether it can be recycled or if it should go straight in the bin.
“We’re pleased to be trialling a proposal that we hope offers a simple solution to an everyday issue. Learnings will help us to prompt a positive change in consumer behaviour over the coming months, ahead of our national rollout next year.”
Estimates from The Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) suggest that 760,000 tonnes of plastic film end up in UK waste streams every year, with half originating from households.
Wrap director Peter Maddox said: “Plastic bags and wrapping make up a quarter of all plastic packaging bought today but only 4% is recycled.
“These plastics are lightweight yet bulky, and with few local authorities collecting them, it is frustrating for people at home to fill their bins with unrecycled packaging.
“This is why all members of the UK Plastics Pact have pledged to make all plastic packaging recyclable by 2025. It’s great to see Co-op helping to cut through the confusion and accepting all types of plastic bags and wrapping at their stores.”