New Co-op initiative to save tonnes of ‘scrunchable’ plastic

A new initiative designed to save tonnes of “scrunchable” plastic – including carrier bags, ready meal lids and biscuit wrappers – has been launched by the Co-op.

Special in-store collection points have been set up in 50 stores across the south of England, which will encourage shoppers to recycle more flimsy plastic products.

The “simple” scheme aims to tackle plastic pollution and establish an accessible disposal route for the material, which is not currently collected by UK councils.  ​

The main message of the scheme is “clean it, scrunch it, bin in”, which will feature on signs around stores in a bid to educate consumers on what to do with their waste plastic.

The deposited scrunchable waste will then be sorted and where possible, processed into waste disposal bin liners for use in Co-op stores.

Recyclable items include plastic carrier bags, lids from ready meals and yoghurt pots, wine box inners, chocolate, cake and biscuit wrappers, fruit and vegetable flow wrap and toilet roll wrappers.

If successful, the initiative will be rolled out across the rest of its stores early next year – making it the largest film collection scheme of its kind in the UK, according to Co-op.

Jo Whitfield, Co-op Food CEO, said: “We want to make it easy for households to recycle all of their plastic food packaging, to prevent unnecessary waste and reduce pollution.

“Flimsy plastic film has long been a problem and people are rightly confused as to whether it can be recycled or if it should go straight in the bin.  ​

“We’re pleased to be trialling a proposal that we hope offers a simple solution to an everyday issue.

British charity Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) estimates that 760,000 tonnes of flimsy plastic end up in UK waste streams every year, with half originating from households.

Peter Maddox, director at Wrap, said: “Plastic bags and wrapping make up a quarter of all plastic packaging bought today, but only 4% is recycled.

“These plastics are light-weight yet bulky, and with few local authorities collecting them, it is frustrating for people at home to fill their bins with unrecycled packaging.

“This is why all members of The UK Plastics Pact have pledged to make all plastic packaging recyclable by 2025.

“It’s great to see Co-op helping to cut through the confusion and accepting all types of plastic bags and wrapping at their stores.”