Sainsbury’s trials in-store film take-back

Sainsbury’s has launched a trial system whereby customers can recycle polypropylene (PP) film in-store in 63 branches across the North East. 

The supermarket chain will partner with Leicestershire-based Eurokey Recycling, which will mechanically recycle all polyethylene (PE) and PP film from Sainsbury’s front of store collections from customers and back of store operations.

Participating stores in the North East will collect PP plastics such as salad bags, frozen food bags, biscuits and cake wrappers

Sainsbury’s currently provides front of store collection points for PE film and carrier bags in more than 600 supermarkets across the UK. Customers will now be able to put their PP plastics into the same recycling bins currently provided in participating Sainsbury’s stores that collect PE plastics.

Providing the trial —which began last week (18 February) — is successful, the retailer says it will roll out the PP film collection system to all its supermarkets by the end of 2021.


Claire Hughes, director of product and innovation at Sainsbury’s, said: “Sainsbury’s is dedicated to trialling and testing new initiatives as part of our ongoing commitment to make it easier for customers to recycle.

“We hope that by trialling flexible film recycling points in our stores and accepting more of the packaging that our customers may be unable to recycle at home, we are helping our customers reduce plastic waste.

“We’ll listen to feedback from our colleagues and customers before we roll out the flexible plastic packaging recycling scheme wider.”

Sainsbury’s says the initiative is currently the largest PP film trial in the UK supermarket industry.

PP film

Salad bags, frozen food bags, biscuits and cake wrappers are among several household products that are often made with PP film. It is considered the most appropriate material for packaging food and keeping products fresh.

Many councils do not yet accept PP film. A report published by consultancy Valpak last year and commissioned by resources charity WRAP said 266,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste in 2019 came from PP plastics. Of that, 80,000 tonnes came from PP film.

“We need all supermarkets to collect all plastic films, adopt consistent messaging and share their insights to make this work”

Dr David Moon, WRAP

Dr David Moon, head of business collaboration at WRAP, said: “We welcome Sainsbury’s trials of polypropylene film recycling in stores across so many locations in the North East. Developing solutions to overcome the challenge of recycling flexible plastic packaging is a priority for The UK Plastics Pact. Collection points for films at these Sainsbury’s stores is an important step in the right direction, building on their trials of polyethylene film collections.

“We need all supermarkets to collect all plastic films, adopt consistent messaging and share their insights to make this work. WRAP urges other retailers to ensure that flexible plastic packaging can be easily collected for recycling throughout the UK.”


The products made from PE, LDPE and PP plastic film accepted in Sainsbury’s supermarkets includes all carrier bags, bread bags and cereal bags, among other items.

As well as the front of store film collection points, other initiatives the retailer has implemented include introducing car park collection facilities at 249 stores for customers to recycle plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays in 2012.

Eurokey Recycling, which also has operations in Australia, Canada, Malaysia and Poland, also partnered with Tesco in 2015 as part of a scheme to collect used plastic bags and recycle them (see letsrecycle.com story).

Last October, rival supermarket the Co-op announced that 50 of its sites in southern England were to trial an in-store take-back system for scrunchy film” such as biscuit wrappers, yoghurt pots and toilet roll wrappers. The material collected through the scheme went to UK plastics recycling business Jayplas (see letsrecycle.com story).

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