By Michael Fletcher, Retail Chief Commercial Officer

At the end of last year, we shared our plans that all of our own brand products will be fully recyclable by the summer. Of course this year brought some challenges for us, but our commitment remains the same – we plan to make every single Co-op product easy to recycle either via kerbside collection or an in-house closed loop system by the end of 2021.

Currently, plastic film currently can’t be recycled by local councils, but it features in so much packaging because it helps protect and seal products. However, many types of plastic film can be recycled into new material, and that’s why we’re trialling an in-store film collection scheme in 50 of our stores in the south of England.

How does the scheme work?

Any type of clean, ‘scrunchy’ plastic (from any brand or retailer) can be accepted at our front of store collection points. This includes types of film like clean yoghurt lids, crisp packets, ready meal lids, multi-buy wrappers and chocolate bar wrappers – basically, any plastic you can scrunch up in your hand.

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

We’ve been able to make this a reality with the help from WRAP UK – a third party partner who specialise in recycling plastic film. We’re signed up to their Plastics Pact along with other signatories who’ve pledged to make all plastic packaging recyclable by 2025 – but we want to do it quicker than that.

Our commitment

One of our key objectives is to make it as easy as possible for households to recycle plastic film, which is one of the reasons we’ve designed this initiative. We’re planning to roll collection out to stores across the country early next year, which will make it the largest film collection scheme of its kind in the UK.

Our collection points can make a huge difference in reducing the amount of plastic going to general waste. We need all our colleagues to get behind this trial and the recycling scheme if we want to make it a success. If you’re part of the trial, start having conversations with your customers about your recycling bins, what the purpose is and why they’re so important for the future of plastic waste.

If you’re not involved in the trial but you’re passionate about plastics, please share this news with your friends, family and customers and let them know the steps we’re taking to tackle plastic pollution and waste. Get involved, share the news and join in the conversation. We’re proud to be pioneering this new collection scheme as part of our Future of Food ambition, and I hope you are too.

I look forward to giving you an update in the future on the trial, our learnings and next steps. As always, share your thoughts below or on Yammer – myself and the team love hearing from you and your passion for recycling.