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Tesco to launch five-month carton recycling trial

Tesco, Kellogg and the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE UK) yesterday (20 October) announced a five-month trial to collect cartons at in-store recycling points.

Building on ACE UK’s national carton bring bank network, new carton recycling points will be introduced into 11 Tesco stores across England and Wales to test how prepared customers are to return packaging to stores for recycling. The trial comes as part of Tesco’s 4R plan for packaging: ‘Remove, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’.

In store carton recycling point at Tesco
An in-store carton recycling point at Tesco
Cartons are a common form of packaging, often used to pack products such as fruit juice, lunchbox-sized drinks, soups, passata and custard, yet only 68 per cent of councils collect the packaging at kerbside.

Whilst the UK uses approximately 60,000 tonnes of carton packaging per year, with the latest figures placing the country’s recycling rate of this material at 48 per cent, there is currently only one dedicated beverage carton recycling plant in the UK, owned by ACE UK and located in Stainland, near Halifax.

ACE UK represents a selection of major UK beverage carton manufacturers, such as Tetra Pak, Elopak and SIG Combibloc. The industry body has run the beverage carton industry’s recycling programme for over 12 years, and the trial will use its Stainland recycling facility.

The new carton recycling points will also be used as a short-term recycling solution for Pringles packaging, which is unable to be recycled in household collection. Kellogg, the company that owns the snacks brand, has announced its intention to improve the recyclability of the Pringles tube, and is currently testing a ‘widely recyclable’ paper packaging solution.

James Bull, Tesco’s Head of Packaging, said: “We are overhauling our packaging by removing unnecessary and non-recyclable packaging from our business and will make sure everything we use can be recycled continuously.

“Inconsistency in the UK’s recycling infrastructure remains a problem and it is vital that the Government quickly implements its plans for collection across councils. In the meantime, we will test new in-store recycling facilities for packaging such as cartons to see if we can improve recycling rates.”

Chris Silcock, Kellogg’s UK Managing Director, added: “We know people want to be able to recycle their Pringles tubes. This trial will allow our shoppers to return them to be recycled into something new and is an important step to help us assess the success of in-store collection for Pringles. We’re pleased to make further progress on our commitment to make all our packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by the end of 2025.”

Commenting on the new trial, Mandy Kelly, Recycling Manager for ACE UK, said: “We are delighted to be working on this collaborative project with Tesco and Pringles. Whilst our primary focus will remain on increasing kerbside collection for beverage cartons we know that the easier it is for consumers to recycle, the higher the recycling rate.

“This trial represents an ideal opportunity to increase easy access to carton recycling while we continue to work hard to get cartons collected at kerbside everywhere in the UK.”