More Southern Co-op stores offering soft plastic recycling

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Soft plastics, such as cling film, biscuit wrappers and carrier bags, can now be recycled in even more co-operative convenience store locations.

Following the success of its trials and in response to customer demand, Southern Co-op now has soft plastics recycling bins in 167 stores across the south of England.

The independent, regional co-operative hopes its expansion of soft plastics recycling bins will enable more customers to safely recycle materials that can’t be recycled at home.

“We started to trial these towards the end of last year and they have been really well received by both customers and colleagues,” said Simon Eastwood, Chief Operating Officer for Retail.

“We would ask recyclers to double check if their plastics can be recycled before putting it in the bin. One way to do this is the scrunch test. It also needs to have had a quick clean but it doesn’t need to have been bought in store to be recycled with us.”

All Co-op branded food packaging is now easy to recycle through a combination of kerbside collections and soft plastic recycling in-store.

Once collected, the recyclable material is sent to a company called Jayplas which will turn it into post-consumer plastic granules. These are then made into secondary products such as bin liners, buckets, and construction industry materials.

Examples of acceptable items for recycling project include: Bread bags, produce bags, ordinary carrier bags, wrappers around kitchen towel and toilet roll, bags that nappies come in, bags from cotton wool, cereal box liners, bags from frozen foods, bags from ice cubes, lids on yogurts, cream and desserts, lids from packs of meat and ready meals, lidding film from cheese packs, wrapping around chicken, fruit and veg flow wrap, chocolate wrappers, wrappers from croissants, pancakes and crumpet etc, biscuit wrappers, wrappers from cakes and Yorkshire puddings, flower wrappers, bags from dried fruit, sugar, pulses, rice and pasta, protective wrappers from gift wrap, bags from gift tags, pastry packaging, bags from household textiles and similar such as all-purpose cloths, dusters, dishcloths, rubber gloves and scourers, wrappers from pet food, wrappers from pies, pasties and sausage rolls, bagged sweets, pizza wrappers, bags from porridge and muesli pouches, and packaging from baby wipes and similar.

Gemma Lacey, Director of Sustainability and Communications at Southern Co-op, said: “We all need to do our bit to ensure our future is waste free. We are really pleased with how the trials of soft plastic recycling has gone so far and are now keen to enable more people to make use of it.

“We know the appetite for change is there within our communities and together we can all play our part in making a positive difference to our environment and our communities.”

All store waste is already diverted from landfill with dry mixed items separated for recycling and food broken down to produce biogas and bio-fertiliser through anaerobic digestion.

This is one area of work which forms part of Southern Co-op’s climate action activity. It also has ambitious science based targets to cut direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions from its business by 2030.