Aldi, FPF and Greenback pilot tracking system for flexible plastics

Partnership implements artificial intelligence and blockchain technology to improve transparency of the recycling process for post-consumer plastics collected by the retailer

Aldi UK, in collaboration with the Flexible Plastic Fund (FPF) and Greenback Recycling Technologies, is pioneering a new standard for reporting on the fate of flexible plastic recycling using the eco2Veritas™ system, Greenback’s, AI-powered tracking platform

Container for collecting soft plastics in Aldi storeUsing this evidence system offers a high-level of visibility into the recycling process of flexible plastics from collection to the final product.

The eco2Veritas™ platform utilises advanced AI technologies in collaboration with external partners to identify and categorise waste materials. Image recognition technology is employed to process key information from documents and QR codes generated during the recycling process. Each piece of evidence is examined in the context of the complete data set to validate claims and assign them accurately within the certification process.

The application of computer-vision AI systems to audit polymers in the flexible plastics collected and then sorted, enables cataloguing of material and following the journey of consignments for reprocessing. According to Greenback, the dynamic capability of AI for processing more data and context provided, the more robust and insightful the AI's performance becomes.

In February 2024, Aldi was awarded its first eco2Veritas™ certificate, verifying the recycling of 62 tonnes of Polyethylene and 25 tonnes of Polypropylene. These figures represent the culmination of months of collecting flexible plastics, with more certifications anticipated. Aldi's efforts contribute to the annual collection of around 300 tonnes of post-consumer flexible plastic packaging, which is processed by Jayplas into pellets for new products.

Luke Emery, Plastic and Packaging Director at Aldi UK, commented: “We are committed to tackling plastic waste. We know this is an issue that matters to our customers too, which is why we’re working with the Flexible Plastic Fund to further improve the recycling of flexible plastics collected in our stores.”

Within Aldi's process, the AI system automatically ingests, contextualises, and reads through delivery notes, weighbridge outputs, and computer-vision data. The software then distinguishes between in-scope and out-of-scope waste and identifies the types of polymers being recycled, enabling automatic confirmation of relevant performance figures.

Highlighting the role the partnership has played, Gareth Morton, FPF project lead at Ecosurety said: “It’s been a while in the making – from exploring options and building trust with the industry, to developing the eco2Veritas certification platform which tracks everything and gives everyone confidence in the process and outcomes.

“Thanks also to the FPF members for their support in enabling us to deliver a ground-breaking initiative – the first of its kind in the UK and possibly in Europe. Initiatives like this are essential to build confidence: the public needs to know that this material is actually being recycled; and the industry also needs to know what is possible using this feedstock and that being open about recycling and end destinations has strong benefits.”

According to Jayplas, ‘working with the blend of polymers has created challenges along the way’ requiring trials that have resulted in recycled polypropylene pellets to then make crates and trays. The polyurethane has been used for refuse sacks, and linings for other packaging films.

Anthony Meadows, Chief Digital Officer at Greenback added: “This collaboration is an important first step in making hard-to-recycle plastics circular in the UK. We developed eco2Veritas to incentivise recycling and to bring trust and transparency to drive circular economy.”

Related Articles