Dixons Carphone launches polystyrene take-back scheme

Electrical retailer Dixons Carphone, the business behind Currys PC World, has launched a scheme enabling customers to return expanded polystyrene packaging to stores for recycling for free. 

A customer returns packaging from a television at a branch of Currys PC World

After a trial period across 14 stores taking place over six weeks this summer, Currys PC World rolled out its customer drop-off service to all its UK stores yesterday (18 August). 

To begin with stores will only accept expanded polystyrene associated with TV packaging, but Dixons Carphone says it will look to collect different types as consumer demand and uptake increases. 

Chris Brown, Dixons Carphone’s senior sustainability operations and compliance manager, said: “We’re proud to be the first retailer to enable customers to drop off their TV packaging in stores for recycling.  

“Now customers can have their polystyrene taken away at delivery or drop it off at one of our stores.  

“Whatever they choose we’ll take it off their hands and ensure we reuse or recycle it in a responsible way, helping customers do their bit for the planet.” 

Insulation panels 

Once collected, the expanded polystyrene is sorted at Dixon Carphone’s Newark facility. Third parties DHL Envirosolutions and Dutch firm De Vries Recycling then turn the compacted expanded polystyrene into insulation panels for housing.

A Dixons Carphone employee sorts expanded polystyrene at the company’s Newark facility

Dixons Carphone says the new in-store scheme “complements” Currys PC World’s existing home delivery recycling service. Via this service, customers have been able to hand back packaging from large domestic appliances to delivery drivers for a fee for more than a decade. 

Dixons Carphone claims it already recycles more than a tenth of all consumer product packing polystyrene in the UK. 

When asked how Dixons Carphone would cover the costs of the free service, a spokesperson told letsrecycle.com the company was “committed to supporting its customers”. 

Recyclable packaging

Dixons Carphone also announced its intention to make 100% of its own label products packaging reusable or recyclable by 2023. 

“Our intention to make 100% of our own label plastic packaging reusable or recyclable by 2023 is a great example of the innovative work we do to reduce our impact on the environment” – Moira Thomas, group director of sustainability and ESG at Dixons Carphone

The retailer says is “working closely” with its own label suppliers to help develop packaging without plastic or expanded polystyrene. 

Dixons Carphone is currently trialling switching from expanded polystyrene to cardboard packaging for large domestic appliances. Other initiatives include swapping polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic blister trays for paper trays, changing expanded polystyrene for cardboard pulp and removing single use items such as cable ties and plug pin covers. 

The company says it removed 1.7 million items of plastic packaging from its own brands in the past year as a result, weighing in at more than 27 tonnes. 

Moira Thomas, group director of sustainability and ESG at Dixons Carphone, said: “This expanded polystyrene recycling scheme and our intention to make 100% of our own label plastic packaging reusable or recyclable by 2023 is a great example of the innovative work we do to reduce our impact on the environment.” 

And, Dixons Carphone announced that it had created and published Product Packaging Guidance to share best practice with the wider industry. The guide outlines preferred materials and which to avoid to suppliers and other retailers. 

Related link 
Product Packaging Guidance

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