Sainsbury’s and Waitrose have signed up to a £1 million scheme to increase the recycling of plastic bags, wrappers, pouches and sachets.
In an agreement with the Flexible Plastic Fund, the grocers will install collection points for these materials outside their stores, with other retailers apparently set to follow suit.
The Fund also aims to encourage household collection of flexible plastics, which are currently recycled by just 16 per cent of local authorities.
It guarantees a value of £100 per recycled tonne, to prompt investment in jobs and infrastructure based around soft plastic recycling.
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Backers of the Fund, which include PepsiCo, Nestlé and environmental charity Ecosurety, believe there is strong public demand for this recycling.
A University of Sheffield survey taken earlier this year showed that 95 per cent would be willing to recycle their soft plastics.
“Historically the UK recycling system has not provided enough motivation to recycle flexible plastics,” Ecosurety innovation head Robbie Staniforth said.
“By creating a sustainable market for this material, longer term improvements can be made to ensure the flexible plastic that remains necessary for packaging is reliably recycled.”
“We’re proud to sign up to the Flexible Plastic Fund and becoming members of the initiative is the latest move in our mission to reduce, reuse, replace and recycle plastic,” Sainsbury’s production director Claire Hughes added.
“Joining the Fund will give our customers access to a flexible plastic recycling system that we can all have confidence in.”
The news comes after the sustainability charity WRAP called on supermarkets to introduce recycling points for soft plastics.
Retailers which have signed up to the group’s “Plastics Pledge”, which includes all Big 4 grocers, are obliged to follow its guidelines by the end of the year.
Of the 300,000 tonnes of flexible plastics produced by the UK in 2019, just six per cent was recycled.