Midway point of FlexCollect trial shows ‘positive’ results

A ‘positive’ interim report has been published for the FlexCollect trial, where a string of local authorities are trialling the weekly collection of flexible plastics.

The trial, covering around 30,000 households from nine local authorities across the UK, launched in 2022 and will run until 2025.

The interim report presented today by project delivery manager Suez recycling and recovery UK, sheds light on early insights gathered from seven local authorities: Cheltenham, Newcastle, Somerset, South Gloucestershire, North Herts, Reading and Maldon.

Some of the standout findings are:

  • Collections have been “really well received” – over 89% of households are ‘very satisfied’ with the service across four pilots surveyed
  • 60% of households participate regularly and the average weight presented per collection bag per household across all pilots is 291g
  • The quality of flexible plastic packaging collected is “generally very good” – 90% is recyclable and there is only 10% contamination

As of March 2027, kerbside collection of flexible plastic packaging for recycling will be mandatory in England, following  EPR regulations and the Simpler Recycling reforms. Similar initiatives are under consideration for the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


Thomas Merry, commercialisation and innovations manager at Suez and Recovery UK said: “It’s been great to see households across all seven pilot authorities embrace the service with strong participation and low levels of contamination.

“As we enter the second half of the project, we’ll bring more households into the trial to gain further insight on the impact of demographics on participation and the amount and type of material collected.

“By the end of the project in spring 2025 we’ll have collected enough flexible plastics to explore different reprocessing options, providing valuable insights at each stage of the value chain.”


The report highlights that in the trial regions of South Gloucestershire, Newcastle, Cheltenham, and Maldon, data reflects a high level of awareness of the FlexCollect trial among participants, with 95% in South Gloucestershire, 89% in Newcastle, 76% in Cheltenham, and 68% in Maldon.

Across the same areas results showed that 85% of residents in South Gloucestershire, 74% in Newcastle, 93% in Cheltenham, and 71% in Maldon, actively engaged in the initiative by recycling one or more items after receiving communications about the trial.


According to the report the quality of materials collected is “good” with 90% having been deemed recyclable. It highlights that the material collected in the trials is largely the target flexible plastic packaging (82%). Another 6% of collected material comprises of the collection bags, 2% is non-target recyclables and the remaining 10% is non-target non-recyclable materials.

It also highlighted showed that in all of the pilot trials, flexible plastic packaging collections have integrated into existing collection services. Despite its voluminous nature, the supplied collection bags “effectively contain” the material, maintaining cleanliness and withstanding compaction. Trial results also show that collection vehicles have demonstrated capacity for flexible plastic alongside other recyclable materials.

The trial reports coloured collection bags have proven effective in promoting the collection of quality material and aiding in the separation of collected flexible plastics from other recyclable materials.

The report also highlights that project’s success is attributed to “effective communication strategies coupled with the provision of collection bags, fostering sustained long-term participation and performance levels.”

The FlexCollect project is co-managed by a consortium comprising the project funders, Ecosurety, RECOUP, SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, and WRAP.

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