Tesco and Berry strike soft plastics recycling deal

Film plastics collected from customers at Tesco stores are to be turned into bin liners as part of a partnership between the supermarket chain and packaging manufacturer Berry Global.

Soft plastics collected at Tesco are to become bin liners under a partnership between the supermarket chain and packaging manufacturer Berry Global (picture: Tesco)

Tesco began collecting notoriously difficult-to-recycle soft plastics at every one of its larger stores in August last year, following a trial earlier in 2021 (see letsrecycle.com story).

With collection points in more than 900 branches, Tesco says it has collected more than 850 tonnes of soft plastic to date and is working with partners on “several recycling solutions”.

The supermarket chain says it will now send 25 to 30 tonnes of collected material per month to Berry’s facility in Heanor, Derbyshire, to be made into pellets, ready for manufacturing into bin liners.

This collected material includes bread bags and packaging for fruit, vegetables, and salad.

Tesco currently sells the resulting bin liners, which contain 20% recycled soft plastic, at £3 for a pack of 20.

Collection points

Tesco began collecting soft plastics at every one of its larger stores in August last year

In a statement published yesterday (7 February), William Guest, Tesco’s sustainability packaging manager, said: “After doing everything possible to remove and reduce plastic from our stores, we want to ensure that materials are recycled into new products and packaging.

“Our soft plastic collection points help to plug the gap in the country’s recycling infrastructure, and when combined with initiatives like this, we meet our customers’ ask that materials do not go to waste.”

Last October, Denise Matthewson, Tesco’s technical packaging manager, said the collection of soft plastics at supermarkets was a “short term solution” while councils rolled out kerbside collections (see letsrecycle.com story).

Process

Once the material Tesco collects arrives at Berry’s Heanor facility, it is washed, scrubbed, and dried, during which processes any unwanted items are removed. The resulting material is then turned into pellets.

To ensure the liners have “suitable strength”, the recycled plastic pellet is blended with recovered agricultural films, such as baling wrap.

Tesco says the combination of the two recycled material sources gives the refuse sacks the required strength and durability, with a high resistance to tearing.

Heanor

Berry’s Heanor facility is capable of recycling 20,000 tonnes of used plastic packaging every year.

The packaging manufacturer claims Heanor is the “first” wash line and recycling facility in the UK that can recycle both flexible and rigid plastics from household and industrial waste.

The recyclate produced by the plant is used in a variety of industrial and consumer rigid and flexible applications, such as storage boxes, refuse sacks, and collation shrink films.

Mike Baxter, external affairs director at Berry bpi, said: “Our collaboration with Tesco demonstrates how traditionally hard to recycle plastics can now be sustainably converted and remanufactured into new products in the UK.

“We are delighted to be supporting this Tesco initiative which helps to keep valuable used plastic film out of the waste stream.”

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