Products of Change


Tue 25 May 2021 | by Michelle Urquhart

Supermarkets to collect salad bags, crisp packets and biscuit wrappers

By the end of the year, more supermarkets will be able to take all types of plastic bags and wrapping for sorting and recycling, including salad bags, crisp packets, biscuit wrappers, bread bags and frozen food bags. Currently, while many supermarkets provide front of store recycling points for carrier bags and other bags made of the same plastic (polythene), there is confusion among shoppers about whether flexible plastic packaging can be recycled, and what their options are to recycle it. According to WRAP, plastic bags and wrapping are one of the most searched for items on the charity’s Recycle Now website. But with all supermarkets signed up to The UK Plastics Pact, new guidance by WRAP means many more retailers can introduce consistent collections for more types of flexible plastic packaging and help divert more from landfill or incineration. Presently, less than 20% of local authorities collect plastic bags and wrapping as part of their kerbside recycling service. And until kerbside collections of flexible plastic packaging are rolled out widely - the timing of which is currently being consulted on by Government - a significant proportion of the public say they’re happy to take these items into a supermarket for recycling. The new guidance outlines best practice for introducing or refining existing collections. It calls for the collection of all types of plastic bags and wrapping used for everyday items such as salad bags, crisp packets and biscuit wrappers, as well as the current commonly collected items such as carrier bags, bread bags and frozen food bags. Ahead of the roll-out of all types of plastic bags and wrapping being accepted more widely, many supermarkets are already accepting some types. This includes soft stretchy plastic used for carrier bags, frozen food bags, bread bags and toilet roll wrap. In March, Tesco announced 171 stores are collecting all types of plastic bags and wrapping across the South West of England and Wales, with plans to roll this out to all stores nationwide. Sainsbury’s is trialling collection in the North East with full rollout expected by the end of this year. Other supermarkets are also trialling, including Co-op in 51 stores across the South East. Marcus Gover, CEO WRAP says: “I am delighted that, through the UK Plastics Pact, the proportion of the population able to recycle all types of plastic bags and wrapping at supermarkets is on the increase, and we expect that by the end of the year it will be widely available. It is a critical step forwards when just 6% of plastics bags and wrapping currently get recycled – despite making up 22% of all plastic packaging by weight. Ensuring that consumers have consistent information on where to recycle plastic bags and wrappers is also critical”.