Sainsbury’s to trial new in-store recycling system for flexible plastic

Sainsbury’s to trial new in-store recycling system for flexible plastics
// Sainsbury’s plans to introduce a new film recycling system in selected stores, offering customers more recycling options
// Salad bags, frozen food bags, biscuits and cake wrappers are among top household products that are harder to recycle at home
// The trial is underway in 63 Sainsbury’s supermarkets across the North East with full rollout expected by the end of this year

Sainsbury’s has announced plans to introduce a new in-store recycling system which allows customers to recycle polypropylene (PP) film found in several household plastic products.

The Big 4 grocer said the launch of this new recycling system comes as part of its pledge 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, Sainsbury’s also pledged to halve its use of plastic packaging by 2025 and become net zero in its operations by 2040.


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Some of the more common items that are packaged with PP film include salad bags and frozen food bags.

With 63 of its stores across North East England adopting the trial, Sainsbury’s said this initiative was 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 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.

However, PP film currently isn’t accepted by most councils in the UK, which means customers are currently unable to recycle it at home.

Sainsbury’s said it wanted to make it easier to recycle flexible plastic packaging, so customers will be able to put their PP plastics into the same recycling bins currently provided in its stores that collect PE plastics.

Should the trial be successful, the grocery giant said it would roll out the PP film collection system to all its supermarkets by the end of 2021, in line with the ambition of the UK Plastics Pact to improve the recycling rates for film.

“Sainsbury’s is dedicated to trialling and testing new initiatives as part of our ongoing commitment to make it easier for customers to recycle,” Sainsbury’s product and innovation director Claire Hughes 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.

“As we work to reduce, reuse, replace and recycle plastic packaging, we’ll continue to find collaborations, working with our suppliers, academics and organisations such as Wrap to explore innovative ways to reduce and recycle more of our packaging.”

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