Tesco is trialling plans to “close the loop” on plastic recycling by enabling customers for the first time to dispose of products such as crisp packets and shopping bags, without them ending up in landfill.
The retailer has entered into a partnership with Swindon-based Recycling Technologies, which has developed a way to turn waste plastic which previously could not be recycled into an oil called Plaxx, which can be used to manufacture new plastic products.
Under a trial Tesco will use recycling bins to start collecting previously unrecyclable plastics, also including pet food pouches, at 10 of its stores in and around the Swindon and Bristol areas, with a view to a wider rollout if it is a success.
In the trial all Tesco own-label packaging will be suitable for recycling.
“Reducing and recycling plastics is such an important issue for us, for customers and for the future of our planet,” said Tesco’s director of quality, Sarah Bradbury. “That’s why we are working hard to reduce the amount of packaging in our stores and have committed that all remaining packaging will be recyclable by 2025.
“Our trial with Recycling Technologies will make even more of our packaging recyclable and help us reach our target. This technology could be the final piece of the jigsaw for the UK plastic recycling industry.”
Tesco said 83% of its packaging was currently recyclable and if the soft-plastics collection was rolled out to all Tesco stores, it estimated it would be possible to take that figure to around 90% of own-label packaging - the equivalent of 65,000 additional tonnes of plastic.
Tesco last week announced it was trialling the removal of packaged fruit and veg wherever a loose alternative existed, although currently limited to two stores.
Recycling Technologies’ chief executive Adrian Griffiths added: “This initiative with Tesco is designed to show there are solutions to recover this important material. Our goal is to double the UK’s capacity to recycle plastic waste by 2027.”
Paula Chin, sustainable materials specialist at WWF UK, which has partnered with Tesco on its environmental agenda, said: “It’s great to see Tesco running this innovative trial offering customers an easy way to recycle more and waste less. From our local beaches to the remote Arctic, plastic is choking our oceans and killing wildlife. Eight million tonnes are dumped into our seas every year - killing turtles, fish, whales and birds. While we can all do our bit by reducing the plastic we buy and embracing reusable items, we need producers, businesses and governments to face their responsibilities too.”