How you can now recycle soft plastics

Some really exciting news on the recycling front!

Stores like Co-op and Tesco are now providing drop off points that will allow you to recycle your household soft plastics. These can even be utilised when the packaging isn't from items purchased in store. 

What are soft plastics? 

Think of all those plastic items not currently collected through kerbside recycling schemes and you’ll get a good idea of what constitutes soft plastic. They are generally lightweight and when scrunched up, will ping back to their original shape. Yoghurt pot lids, crisp packets, microwave rice & baby food pouches, chocolate bar wrappers, and bread bags are all examples of soft plastics that will be accepted at the new recycling points. Even cling film is taken if it’s clean. Take a full look at what you can and can’t recycle.         

Why is this such a breakthrough?

Given soft plastics are often not collected at the kerbside, most of it goes into general waste. In turn, it ends up in landfill or the natural environment, contributing to the 300+ million tonnes of plastic waste created each year - that's almost the combined weight of the entire human population! The scale of the problem is huge with 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic created since the 1950s. You can now start to see the impact recycling soft plastics could have with the masses behind it. 

Once refined, the soft plastic granules are turned into new packaging, bin liners, or used to make rigid plastic items like buckets, or materials for the construction industry. So much better than landfill or incineration.

5 steps to recycling soft plastics

1. Find a location 

There’s a growing list of recycling centres offering this service in the UK, Co-op has around 1500 locations, Tesco around 200, and Sainsbury’s about the same.   

2. Clean the items 

Make sure the items are clean and free from food residue. Uncleaned plastics are far more difficult to recycle and may contaminate other items being processed.

3. Double check which soft plastic items you can recycle 

The list of what can be recycled is pretty extensive. As as general rule though, if it reforms into its original shape once scrunched, it should be okay to recycle - do consult the full list though.

4. Take your items into store

Each listed store has a soft plastic recycling point, simply pop your items into the dispenser and the rest is taken care of. It’s really that simple.

5. Spread the news   

Good news doesn’t always travel fast. Please do tell your friends, family or anyone that will listen about the soft plastic recycling scheme. It’s honestly groundbreaking and the more people who know, the bigger the impact. 

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