Aldi rolls out ‘soft plastic’ collections across UK

Supermarket chain Aldi announced this week (23 September) it was rolling out recycling bins for front-of-store soft plastics at more than 800 of its shops across the UK.

The roll-out follows the “success” of a 16-week trial the supermarket carried out at 20 of its stores across Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Greater Manchester last year (see letsrecycle.com story).

Aldi is rolling out recycling bins for front-of-store soft plastics at more than 800 of its shops (picture: Aldi)

By the end of the year, Aldi says, customers will be able to return clean soft plastic packaging including crisp packets, salad bags, bread bags and carrier bags at “most” of its UK stores.

Richard Gorman, plastics and packaging director at Aldi UK, said: “We are always striving to reduce plastic waste wherever possible, and we know how important this is to our customers.

“This roll-out is a step in the right direction and provides our shoppers with an easy option to recycle their problematic soft plastic packaging in the UK.”

An Aldi spokesperson told letsrecycle.com it was working with plastics recycling business Jayplas to recycle the material it collected. Jayplas is currently commissioning a washing and pelletising plant for used film in Loughborough and has plans for a plant near Cardiff which would process film from materials recycling facilities (see letsrecycle.com story).

Aldi “works closely with our partners” to ensure no plastic from its stores or collection points is sent to landfill and everything is recycled “wherever possible”, the spokesperson said. All the materials will be recycled in the UK, the spokesperson said.

Plastic film

Under the government’s plans for extended producer responsibility for packaging, recyclable plastic film and flexible packaging is to be collected for recycling from both households and businesses across the UK by 31 March 2027 (see letsrecycle.com story).

Aldi will accept material including soft plastic packaging including crisp packets, salad bags, bread bags and carrier bags

However, several MPs have called for kerbside collections to be introduced sooner (see letsrecycle.com story).

A pilot project called FlexCollect was launched in May to provide financial support for nine local authorities to roll out kerbside collections in trials over a three-year period (see letsrecycle.com story).

Elsewhere, several other retailers including the Co-op, Sainsbury’s and Tesco have all rolled out in-store collection points of their own.

Urgent solutions

Helen Bird, head of business collaboration at climate action NGO WRAP, said plastic bags and wrapping represented a fifth of “the plastic packaging that we’re all left with at home”.

“In future years, this packaging will be collected directly from people’s homes and places of work, but solutions are urgently needed today to tackle the growing mountain of waste,” she said.

“Many citizens have shown that they are willing to take plastic bags and wrapping to their local food stores for recycling, and this move by Aldi means that more people across the UK will be able to do just that.”

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