Supermarket chain Aldi is rolling out soft plastic collection points in select stores in the North of England and East Midlands, as part of a trial to help customers recycle the “problem material”.
The collection bins are at 20 of its stores across Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Greater Manchester, where customers can deposit clean, soft plastic packaging such as carrier bags, crisp packets, salad bags and bread bags.
The trial began yesterday (17 May) and will run for a period of 16 weeks. If it is successful, the collection bins will be rolled out across all of Aldi’s UK stores.
Aldi said it will be working with its recycling partner, SWRNewstar to “establish the best routes” for the plastics to be processed.
SWRNewstar is an outsourcing company that was acquired by Biffa in 2019.
Flexible packaging has always been a hard-to-recycle material, with the vast majority of UK local authorities not offering a collection service.
The trial is the latest move to reduce plastic by Aldi, as it also works towards making 100% of its own-label packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2022.
Richard Gorman, plastics and packaging director at Aldi UK, said: “We know our customers are environmentally-conscious, and as a responsible retailer, we are always striving to reduce plastic waste wherever possible. Our latest trial is another step in the right direction, as we work towards being able to offer shoppers an option to bring back to our stores problem plastic that might not be recycled by their local councils.
“We will be monitoring the trial closely, and we hope that customers utilise our collection bins so that we can look at expanding this into more stores.”
The trial follows calls from resources charity Wrap earlier this month, urging supermarkets to do more to collect plastic bags and flexible packaging (see letsrecycle.com story).
Along with this, the charity launched guidance to help retailers introduce consistent collections for flexible plastic packaging to help divert more from landfill or incineration.
Helen Bird, strategic engagement manager at WRAP, commented: “While plastic bags and wrapping makes up around a fifth of consumer plastic packaging, only 6% of it is recycled. UK Plastics Pact members, representing the vast majority of plastic packaging sold by supermarkets, have committed for all of it to be recyclable by 2025.
“In future years local authorities will collect this material for recycling, but in the meantime supermarkets are able to provide recycling points for plastic bags and wrapping to the many citizens who want to recycle all that they can. It’s great to see Aldi trialling how this can be achieved.”