Up to nine councils are to trial household collection of flexible plastic packaging, under a scheme called FlexCollect, launched last week
The trial comes ahead of the expected requirement for local authorities to collect films under the consistent collections regime from 2027.
Paid for by the £2.9m Flexible Plastic Fund set up by the EcoSurety packaging waste compliance scheme, FlexCollect says it will implement a series of “innovative flexible plastic packaging household collection and recycling pilots”.
The Flexible Plastic Fund was established in May 2021 by founding partners Mars UK, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever.
The three-year project will see the participating local authorities receive financial support to roll out pilot kerbside collections, with Cheltenham borough council being the first to join.
Some of the material collected will be exported for recycling “in Europe”, with the majority recycled in the UK. For more information on recycling click here
Running in two stages, the ‘pioneer stage’ of the project is to involve pilots at four local authorities, with a further five to join six months later for an ‘industrialisation stage’ to build on the gained knowledge.
FlexCollect said the work will help understand how to incorporate flexibles into existing collection services and develop best practice ahead of the introduction of consistent collections across the UK in 2027
In a statement, FlexCollect added: “The data and insights will be published to help support local authorities introducing new collections, as well as stimulate the development of end markets and domestic reprocessing infrastructure.”
The pilots are co-funded by Defra, UKRI’s Smart Sustainable Packaging Challenge and Zero Waste Scotland. Also involved are manufacturers and industry and government partners, including Ecosurety, Suez, Recoup, LARAC, WRAP, NAWDO, CIWM and ESA.
Resources and Waste Minister Jo Churchill said: “This innovative project will provide valuable evidence to support our proposals to roll out nationwide collections of plastic film from all households and businesses.”
Gareth Morton, discovery manager at Ecosurety and FPF FlexCollect project lead for the Flexible Plastic Fund, commented: “Alongside our work on front of store collections with retailers and recyclers, FPF FlexCollect will enable us to deepen and accelerate understanding of the flexible plastics recycling chain and its complexities through the lens of kerbside collections. It is a great opportunity for our members to get really involved and help to make flexible plastics recycling a reality quicker.”