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    Two new local authorities join industry led flexible plastic recycling pilot

    Photo: iStock

    Reading Borough Council and North Hertfordshire Council have joined the FlexCollect project, the largest pilot for household collections and recycling of flexible plastic packaging in the UK.

    This industry led project, initiated and led by the Flexible Plastic Fund (FPF), benefits from cross-industry expertise of leading industry and government partners. The pilot will inform how to incorporate flexibles into existing collection services across different geographies and demographics, developing best practice.

    North Herts Council joined the pilot project on 14 November, enabling over 2,200 households across Knebworth to collect and recycle flexible plastic bags, sachets, packets and wrapping as part of their regular kerbside recycling collections.

    The pilot in Reading, managed in partnership with re3, began on 18 September with over 4,000 households and flats in the town centre.

    “We are delighted to be part of this exciting pilot to extend what we collect from the kerbside. Although plastic bags and wrapping don’t weigh that much, they can take up lots of space in people’s bins and it’s such a shame for them not to be recycled,” Cllr Amy Allen, executive member for recycling and waste, North Herts Council, said.

    Karen Rowland, Reading Borough Council’s lead councillor for environmental services and community safety, added: “There is no doubt that we are very excited to be a part of this trial and invite all selected households to participate and follow the provided instructions. This trial will help us understand how we can ultimately recycle the maximum amounts of plastic bags and wrapping by ensuring we develop the best methods of collection for all our residents.”

    With the addition of these two new local authorities, there are now seven local authorities and over 28,000 households across the UK participating in the £3 million FPF FlexCollect pilot, which began in 2022 and will run until 2025.

    The project, co-managed by a consortium comprising the project funders, Ecosurety, RECOUP, SUEZ recycling and recovery UK and WRAP, is now almost halfway through the project timeline and key findings in an interim report will shortly be released.

    “It’s great to have these two latest pilots up and running as they will, along with the other pilots, generate valuable data that will help councils and industry work out how to collect, sort and recycle this challenging material,” Gareth Morton, project lead for Ecosurety, said.

    The FlexCollect project has been the principal focus for the FPF which is the majority funder, with the remaining funding coming from the Defra, the UK Research and Innovation and Zero Waste Scotland.

    The FPF is funded and supported by the following firms: Abel & Cole, Ella’s Kitchen, Kiddylicious, Koninklijke Douwe Egberts, KP Snacks, Lotus Bakeries, Mars UK, McCain Foods, Mondelēz International, Natural Balance Foods, Nestlé, Ocado Retail, PepsiCo, The Collective, Unilever, United Biscuits and Vitaflo.

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