Sainsbury’s Introduces In-Store Plastics Recycling Trial

Seeking to help their customers take personal control of plastic recycling, Sainsbury’s has announced the trial of an innovative system which allows customers to recycle Polypropylene (PP) film found in several household plastic products.

The launch of this new recycling system comes as part of Sainsbury’s commitment to increase recycling in its own operations and to make recycling easier for its customers, by offering more facilities do so in its stores. Last year, the retailer also pledged to halve its use of plastic packaging by 2025 and become net zero in its operations by 2040.

The trial will allow the people of the North East to easily and responsibly dispose of pesky Polypropylene (PP) film packaging

With 63 of its stores across North East England adopting the trial, this initiative is currently the largest PP film trial in the UK supermarket industry. Sainsbury’s currently provides front of store collection points for Polyethylene (PE) film and carrier bags in over 600 supermarkets across the UK.

A report from last year, published by Valpak and commissioned by WRAP, highlights that:

  • 266,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste in 2019 came from Polypropylene (PP) plastics.
  • Of that, 80,000 tonnes came from PP film.

Until a sustainable alternative is developed to replace PP film, it continues to be the most appropriate material used to package food, and to keep products fresh.

WRAP’s Head of Business Collaboration, Dr David Moon, welcomes the recycling trial

PP film currently isn’t accepted by most councils in the UK, which means customers are currently unable to recycle it at home. To make it easier to recycle flexible plastic packaging, customers will be able to put their PP plastics into the same recycling bins currently provided in Sainsbury’s stores that collect PE plastics.

Providing the trial is successful, the retailer will roll out the PP film collection system to all its supermarkets by the end of 2021, in alignment with the ambition of the UK Plastics Pact to improve the recycling rates for film.

Claire Hughes, Director of Product and Innovation at Sainsbury’s, said: “We hope that by trialling flexible film recycling points in our stores and accepting more of the packaging that our customers may be unable to recycle at home, we are helping our customers reduce plastic waste. We’ll listen to feedback from our colleagues and customers before we roll out the flexible plastic packaging recycling scheme wider.”

Dr David Moon, Head of Business Collaboration at WRAP, said: “We welcome Sainsbury’s trials of polypropylene film recycling in stores across so many locations in the North East. Developing solutions to overcome the challenge of recycling flexible plastic packaging is a priority for The UK Plastics Pact. Collection points for films at these Sainsbury’s stores is an important step in the right direction, building on their trials of polyethylene film collections.”

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