Tesco rolls out soft plastic collection service nationally

Tesco has today (23 August) announced the expansion of its soft plastic collection scheme, brought forward in response to significant customer support.

Shoppers will be able to bring back any soft plastic packaging for recycling – Tesco states that as much of this material as possible will be recycled back into its own products and packaging, with the service expected to see the collection of over 1000 tonnes of plastic per year.

Tesco soft plastics recycling pointThe collection points will allow customers to return materials such as the clear film used to wrap meat and fish, crisp packets, fruit and veg bags, and sweet wrappers. Once collected by

Tesco, the soft plastic will be sent for recycling where it will be washed and sorted, with as much of the material as possible being recycled into new products and packaging.

In a recent sample, Tesco stated that it was able to recover over 80 per cent of the soft plastic returned by customers. The supermarket says it is now working with recyclers to explore what can be done with the remaining 20 per cent, which is currently sent for energy recovery.

The supermarket ran a trial in 170 stores earlier this year in Wales and the South West, which saw close to a tonne of soft plastic being collected per day. Eighty-five per cent of customers said the service helped them to recycle more than they would have done otherwise, with respondents also reporting that they enjoyed the convenience of being able to combine recycling with their shopping.

The most common items returned during the trial included bread bags, fruit and vegetable packaging, crisp packets, and salad bags.

Tesco’s Director of Quality, Sarah Bradbury, said: “We’re tackling the impact of plastics by removing and reducing it as much as possible, helping customers move to reusable alternatives, and ensuring they can recycle everything that’s left. I'm delighted that we're rolling out collection points to the whole of the country so even more customers can help us stop plastic from going to waste.”

Marcus Gover, CEO of the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), said: “Tackling plastic bags and wrapping is the UK Plastics Pact’s number one priority, and increasing front of store collection points is a great step forward. As little as six per cent of this problematic plastic is collected and recycled in the UK, despite making up nearly a quarter of all plastic packaging by weight.

“By offering shoppers a simple and consistent collections system Tesco is helping to ensure that much more of this problem plastic is captured and goes on to be recycled. I welcome this move which will help considerably towards the UK Plastics Pact’s target of increasing plastic recycling.”