Morrisons to co-own soft plastics recycling plant

Morrisons has become the first UK supermarket to own its own recycling operations, holding a stake in a new processing facility which will be co-owned and constructed by Yes Recycling.

Located in Fife, the site will reprocess ‘hard-to-recycle’ soft plastics, turning flexible food packaging – including chocolate wrappers, crisp packets, and food film – into plastic flakes, pellets, and boards. At its current capacity, the facility will be able to accept 15,000 tonnes of material annually from Morrisons distribution centres and Cireco Scotland, a company which processes waste from kerbside collections.

Soft plasticsThe supermarket chain is exploring ways to use the recycled material produced by the facility for a range of applications, including store fixtures and fittings. The reprocessing centre will also manufacture Ecosheets, designed for use within the agricultural and construction industries.

The announcement of the new infrastructure compliments Morrisons’ commitment to recycling and reusing ‘the equivalent amount of plastic it puts on to the market within its own facilities.’ In order to ease the process, the supermarket chain has pledged to reduce the amount of plastic packaging it uses across its own brand lines by 50 per cent by 2025, as well as making said packaging either recyclable, reusable or compostable within the same time frame. Morrisons claims to have already reduced its usage of plastic own brand packaging by approximately 8,000 tonnes annually since 2017 in order to deliver this target, along with replacing a further 7,000 of the packaging with fully recyclable material.

Jamie Winter, Procurement Director at Morrisons, commented: “Lots of work has been done by retailers to reduce plastic, but little to recycle what remains. We’re taking on that challenge and making a significant investment in a state-of-the-art soft plastic recycling site. It’ll take problematic plastics, recycle them here in the UK, and give them a new life. And by 2025 we want to increase our capability to be able to recycle and reuse the equivalent amount of plastic we put out onto the market within our own facilities.”

Omer Kutluoglu, Co-owner of Yes Recycling, said: “This is a ground-breaking site which uses new patented plastic recycling technology, which we’ve developed over the last seven years. It is a blueprint for the future and will help to kick-start the UK’s plastics recycling industry. It will mean we can keep plastic in our own country’s ‘circular economy’ and out of our seas and oceans.”

Helen Bird, Strategic Technical Manager in Plastics at the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), said: “It’s very encouraging to hear of the investment made by UK Plastics Pact member Morrisons in the Yes Recycling plastic bags and wrapping recycling facility. While we need to reduce unnecessary plastic, when it comes to recycling we need to make it as simple for people as possible.”