Source: Co-op

Co-op is starting the trial with its two-litre still spring water line 

Co-op has claimed a retailer first in launching a trial aimed at revealing the proportion of its own-brand plastic bottles that are being recycled.

In partnership with technology business Polytag, the convenience retailer is kicking off the trial with a recycling centre in North Wales. A UV code that has been added to its two-litre still spring water line will be identified by specialist equipment fitted to the sorting machines, so the bottles can be counted. 

Co-op said it would look to expand the initiative with more own-brand products as the trial developed. Polytag is also working with UK devolved governments to extend the rollout and installation of UV tag readers with more recycling facility operators across the country.

“We all have our part to play when it comes to recycling and, as a retailer, we want to gain a greater understanding on a product’s journey in the recycling chain to help paint a clearer picture and support future traceability,” said Co-op Food MD Matt Hood.

“This new trial will enable Co-op to gather valuable insight to provide guidance and measurement for future initiatives to encourage more people to recycle, and it will also support the industry with true benchmarks for recycling rates in the UK for the very first time.”

Polytag CEO Alice Rackley said: “We’ve optimised UV tag reading technology so brands can apply a simple UV tag layer to their labels and get never-before-seen data about how many of their single-use items of plastic packaging are being handled in a material recovery facility.

“We’re absolutely delighted Co-op has agreed to work with Polytag to continue to develop and deliver technology that will enable us to all recycle more, together.”

Last year, Co-op announced all of its own-brand food packaging was 100% recyclable, in part thanks to its in-store recycling scheme for soft plastics.

In addition to this, all of Co-op’s own-brand still, sparkling and flavoured water, carbonated drinks and mixers are made out of 100% recycled material, meaning they’re fully recycled and recyclable.