Tesco Extra store leads the way on soft plastic recycling

Photo of part of a container labelled 'Soft Plastics'.
Tesco soft plastic recycling collection point.

Supermarket chain Tesco has begun rolling out soft plastic recycling points to all its UK stores following a successful trial that began in March 2021 and included the Extra store in Bradley Stoke.

This will be the first time that the UK has had a network of collection points of this size dedicated to the collection of soft plastic. Most councils don’t collect soft plastic from homes for recycling and it therefore often goes to landfill.

The collection points enable customers to return all their previously unrecycled soft plastic, regardless of where they bought it.

At the Bradley Stoke Tesco Extra store, the soft plastic collection points are in the form of large, wheeled crates with white covers, currently located near the self-service checkouts.

Kitchen & Laundry Appliance Care, Bradley Stoke, Bristol.

The types of items that can be deposited at the points are:

  • Any plastic bag
  • Crisp packets
  • Food & pet pouches
  • Plastic wrappers
  • Any plastic film

Once collected, the material is sent for recycling where it is washed, sorted and processed before being turned into new packaging – for food, household and beauty products.

Tesco has reported that in early trials customers returned more than ten times the expected amount of plastic, with bread bags, fruit & vegetable packaging, crisp packets, salad bags, baby and pet food pouches topping the list of returned packaging.

In a recent blog post about the trial last month, James Bull, head of packaging at the company, said the supermarket was able to “recover over 80 percent of the soft plastic returned by customers”. He said he is now working with recyclers to explore what can be done with the remaining 20 percent, which is currently sent for energy recovery.”


Tesco’s director of quality, Sarah Bradbury, said:

“It is an absolute priority to remove and reduce as much plastic as possible and ensure everything we use is recycled and kept out of the environment. Where plastic serves an important purpose, such as reducing food waste, these new recycling points make sure that every piece can be easily recycled. Trials have shown they are popular with customers, so we believe rolling them out at scale will have a real impact.”

Paula Chin, World Wildlife Fund sustainable materials specialist, said:

“Plastic pollution is one of the most visible symptoms of the environmental crisis and is devastating our natural world. Businesses, governments and households have all got an important part to play in tackling the issue, so it’s encouraging to see Tesco extending their successful soft plastics collection scheme”

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This article originally appeared in the October 2021 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on page 18). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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