Tesco rolls out network of recycling points for soft plastic

Tesco has begun rolling out a network of recycling points for soft plastic in 171 stores across the South West of England and Wales.

The recycling points will have the capacity to take soft (or non-rigid) plastic – which is usually non-recyclable – such as clingfilm, pet food pouches, crisp packets and bread bags, regardless of where it was bought from. 

<Tesco soft plastics This follows a trial Tesco carried out in partnership with Recycling Technologies in 2019, which saw collection points set up in 10 stores around Bristol and Swindon.

Non-rigid plastics, such as films, cause problems for sorting equipment at Materials Recycling Facilities. Furthermore, crisp packets are made of a complex combination of plastic and aluminium, which is difficult to separate.

While recycling companies such as Terracycle have made it possible for these items to be recycled, it is generally not financially feasible for local authorities to collect these items at the kerbside, as there are currently not enough facilities in the country that will recycle them.

Tesco’s network of recycling points will cover much of the South West and Wales, with the retailer expecting to collect and recycle up to 1,000 tonnes of soft plastic a year. Plans are in place to extend the network to all large stores in the UK.

Tesco’s Director of Quality, Sarah Bradbury, said: “It is an absolute priority to remove and reduce as much plastic as possible and ensure everything we use is recycled and kept out of the environment.

“Where plastic serves an important purpose such as reducing food waste, these new recycling points make sure that every piece can be easily recycled.

“Trials have shown they are popular with customers, so we believe rolling them out at scale will have a real impact.”

Paula Chin, WWF Sustainable Materials Specialist said: “Plastic pollution is one of the most visible symptoms of the environmental crisis and is devastating our natural world.

“Businesses, governments and households have all got an important part to play in tackling the issue, so it’s encouraging to see Tesco extending their successful soft plastics collection trial across more of their stores, giving their customers even more opportunity to recycle these valuable materials.”