Independent retail co-ops in the UK have signed up to the plastic collection scheme, launched by the Co-op Group at the start of last month.
The scheme sees the co-ops install collection points at selected where people can recycle film and soft plastics, items that are currently not collected by all council services.
The collection points will allow people to deposit items such as crisp packets, sweet wrappers, plastic film, pet food pouches, bread bags and other plastic bags, which will then be backhauled via the retailers’ distribution networks and responsibly recycled.
Estimates from WRAP suggest that just 6% of plastic bags and wrapping from UK households is recycled each year, while (by weight) it makes up around a fifth of all plastic packaging.
Items that cannot be recycled include hard plastics, plastic bottles, plastic trays and no compostable elements, however recycling services for these items are widely available.
Luke Olly, energy and environment lead, at Central England Co-op said: “As a co-operative, we have a responsibility to champion sustainability for the good of our members, consumers and local communities and plastics is at the forefront of these efforts.
“We have worked with other retail co-ops to provide a network of in-store collection points for film and soft plastics. Providing collection points specifically for these types of plastics will enable customers to easily recycle items that are currently not collected through council services, while doing this in a co-operative manner means all the communities the co-op serves can benefit from this process, helping to provide a nationwide solution to this difficult problem.
“We hope our customers and members will make use of the new collection points and join us in our push to recycle together.”
Mike Pickering, co-operative social responsibility manager at Midcounties Co-operative, said: “As a Society, we’re committed to making change and encouraging our members and customers to work with us to build a better environment for our future, and recycling is a big part of that.
“We know that many of our customers and members want to do even more than they already are to help the planet, and the new recycling collection points are a great, convenient solution to help them with that.”
Other co-ops introducing the scheme include Chelmsford Star, East of England, Lincolnshire and Heart of England.
Heart of England says plastic can be taken to its stores in Hinckley, Long Lawford, Wellesbourne, Balsall Common, and Galley Common, Cedar Road and Attleborough in Nuneaton, and Allesley Old Road and Earlsdon in Coventry.
Steve Browne, general manager of the society’s food division, said: “The environment is an increasingly common area of concern among our members and customers. This new scheme will help make a significant impact. Already a great many of our stores offer package-free zones where customers use their own refillable containers to buy certain products, and our water stations too – allowing customers to refill their own water bottles – are also a huge hit.”
Southern Co-op has also told the News it is planning to trial it.
Visit the relevant co-op’s website for more details.