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Sainsbury's works with WRAP on mixed plastics recycling trial

Retailer Sainsburys is doing a trial with the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to see how feasible it is to recycle mixed plastic that customers bring back.

Customers can take back films, trays and pots for the retailer to recycle in the trial.

Speaking to MRW, Sainsburys non-executive chair with responsibility for the environment Lawrence Christensen said: We are doing a trial with WRAP with 28 stores in London which have their own recycling units. They are taking the plastic that our customers are putting in those and then we are taking it to a sortation and recycling plant.

We are seeing how feasible it is to recycle plastic that customers bring back, like they bring back glass bottles. That trial is ongoing at the moment.  We are also seeing how feasible it is to start a recycling plant for customer returns of plastic, like glass.

There is around 1 million tonnes of domestic mixed plastic waste arising in the UK each year, with a vast majority being sent to landfill. Last year, WRAP announced that it was hoping to boost the market for mixed plastics and to help develop reprocessing capacity and end markets for the materials.

Christensen did not specify when the trial would end but he said: At the moment when we talk about plastic we talk about it in a broader sense but really what it spilts down to is film and rigid plastic. While there is a good market for rigid plastic like bottles, which councils take, the big problem is what you do with film.

He added that outer case packaging was a problem and the store was reviewing how it could reduce waste for this material.

As part of its green industrial revolution Sainsburys will also start collecting food waste from its stores in Scotland next week to send to anaerobic digestion plants (see MRW story). By June it hopes to send no waste to landfill.

Christensen added: Even in these credit crunch times, the value of business matters more than it ever did before. I still meet friends of mine, intelligent people who still think there is not a problem [waste] out there. There is still a big education job to be done by the Government.

Sainsburys has a high value side you have to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

Image: Sainsbury's  environment chair Lawrence Christensen

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