Major UK retailer becomes founding member of packaging recycling scheme

RECYCLING technology specialist Polytag has announced retailer M&S as a founding member of its Polytag Ecotrace Programme, an initiative designed to optimise the tracing and recycling of single-use plastic packaging in the UK.

The programme will deploy a network of Polytag’s Invisible UV Tag detection equipment in recycling centres that handle high volumes of waste. FMCG brands, retailers, and waste management businesses are invited to get involved to help unlock granular data on over 50% of the UK’s household waste recycling stream.

As a founding member of the programme, M&S will gain real-time insights into where, when, and how much of its single-use plastic packaging is collected and sorted at recycling centres across the UK. This never-before-seen data – at barcode level – will provide a benchmark for understanding recycling rates of its packaging.

Polytag said that as recycled PET plastic materials sustain ‘high demand’ from FMCG brand owners, the Invisible UV Tags are easily printed onto labels at production. Once the packaging item enters the recycling stream at a recycling centre, a Polytag UV Tag Reader identifies the tag.

Alice Rackley, CEO of Polytag, said, “Currently, FMCG brands have no visibility of what happens to its single-use plastic once it has been put in the bin. As Extended Producer Responsibility legislation comes into force, brands will need to take responsibility for packaging materials.

“Not only does our Ecotrace Programme aim to solve this problem by bringing together leading players across the UK to capture barcode-level information on single-use plastic, but it stands as an example of what passion and collaboration paired with tangible action can do. We would like to thank M&S for being the first partner to join our new initiative. Other businesses that are interested in joining the programme should get in touch and become part of this story, which is set to shake up the industry.”