Major food and beverage manufacturers and retailers have joined forces to establish a £1 million fund to improve flexible plastic recycling in the UK.
The Flexible Plastic Fund is a cross-industry collaboration led by producer compliance scheme Ecosurety, with support from environmental charity Hubbub.
Mars UK, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever have supported the launch of the fund; while Sainsbury’s and Waitrose have signed up and will be hosting flexible plastic collection points across the UK.
The fund looks to incentivise investment in a flexible plastic recycling infrastructure in the UK, with the long-term ambition of allowing household collection of the material.
Flexible plastics include plastic bags, wrappers, films, pouches, packets and sachets. Due to its unique properties, this type of plastic must be processed in a different way, yet the fund says this could be overcome by creating a separate flexible plastic recycling stream.
Several other major retailers are set to follow suit with plastic collection points, meaning recycling this material will become increasingly accessible to consumers. Recycled plastic will then be turned into a range of products including non-food grade plastic, non-food-grade film and food-grade film.
By making flexible plastic recycling economically viable for recyclers and easier for consumers, the Flexible Plastic Fund says this will increase the supply of recycled plastic and enable the industry to ultimately become more circular.
The initiative claims it will provide fully audited transparency – at least 80% of the plastics collected will be recycled in the UK – rising to 100% by 2023. Meanwhile, all material will be fully traceable and tracked from the collector through to new products.
In addition, the fund will guarantee a minimum value of £100 per tonne of recycled product as an incentive for recyclers to process flexible plastic.
“By creating a sustainable market for this material, longer term improvements can be made to ensure the flexible plastic that remains necessary for packaging is reliably recycled and eventually contributes to a circular economy, thereby tackling plastic pollution,” said Robbie Staniforth, head of innovation and policy at Ecosurety.
Trewin Restorick CEO and co-founder of Hubbub, said: “People are ready and willing to recycle their flexible plastics – we just have to make the infrastructure work. Collaboration is key to making this a success and we are urging more manufacturers to invest in the fund, more retailers to collect flexible plastic for recycling and more recyclers to recycle flexible plastics.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2021
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