Co-op recycling scheme to turn packaging into construction materials

Image: Michaelasbest, Shutterstock

THE Co-op has launched what it says is Europe’s most extensive in-store recycling scheme for plastic bags and product wrapping.

It sees recycling units for ‘soft’ plastics launched in 1,500 stores this month (July) and 2,300 stores by November, allowing for all Co-op’s own food packaging to be easily recycled.

The supermarket estimates that the introduction of the in-store units – which also accept packaging for food products purchased from other retailers – will see the collection of 300 tonnes of plastic bags and food wrapping per year.

The collected material will be turned into post-consumer granules by Jayplas, with the subsequent material being used to create products such as bin liners, buckets and construction materials.

Jo Whitfield, Co-op Food CEO, said, “As we face into an environmental crisis, we know from our feedback that there is a universal appetite for change. Which is why we are making it easier for thousands of households to recycle all of their plastic food packaging. This will not only prevent unnecessary waste but also reduce plastic pollution. By offering a simple and convenient solution to an everyday issue, we believe we can help communities to make small changes, that together will add up to a big difference for our environment.”

Helen Bird, strategic technical manager from WRAP, added, “There’s no doubt that unnecessary plastic needs to be reduced; including bags and wrapping which is a fifth of all consumer plastic packaging. However, where it is necessary it is urgent to design it for recycling and ensure recycling systems are in place. It’s great to see the roll out of collections across Co-op’s stores significantly contributing to the goal of The UK Plastics Pact for all plastic packaging to be recyclable by 2025. Not only is the Co-op ensuring that the service is widely promoted, it is processing the material within the UK, demonstrating how we can build back better for the economy and environment.”