Morrisons to re-use 15,000 tons of wrappers at pioneering plant

Can you put crisp packets in the recycling? You can now: Morrisons to re-use 15,000 tons of wrappers at pioneering plant in Fife

  • Morrisons are set to re-use 15,000 tons of wrappers at pioneering plant in Fife
  • The supermarket says its new facility in Fife is the first of its kind in the world
  • They’re working with councils to find way of collecting material from doorsteps

It’s the question that leaves families across the country scratching their heads: Can you put bread bags, crisps packets and pizza wrappers in with recycling or should they go in the bin?

Now Morrisons hopes to have solved the conundrum – by collecting all types of soft plastic we use at home and sending it to its own recycling plant. 

The supermarket says its new facility in Fife is the first of its kind in the world and will turn around 15,000 tons of hard-to-recycle waste packaging a year into plastic flakes, pellets and boards for use in fixtures and fittings in Morrisons stores or in the building and agriculture trades.

At first, customers will have to bring their washed soft plastic into Morrisons stores in carrier bags. But chief executive David Potts told The Mail on Sunday that the company is working with local councils to find a way of collecting soft plastic materials from household doorsteps across the country.

Morrisons is set to collect all types of soft plastic we use at home and send it to its own recycling plant – turning around 15,000 tons of hard-to-recycle waste packaging a year

At first, customers will have to bring their washed soft plastic into Morrisons stores in carrier bags (Pictured)

Currently, most councils recycle only hard plastics, which are more valuable and easier to turn into new products.

If the Morrisons pilot scheme – in six Edinburgh stores – proves to be a success, it is set to be rolled out to all 498 shops over the next year.

Mr Potts revealed that the company already has plans for more recycling plants around the UK as the scheme expands. 

He said: ‘We’ve all seen the terrible pictures of plastic on beautiful Indonesian and Philippine beaches. And I’ve seen first-hand how it is affecting our coastlines when I’ve spent time on beach-cleans here in Britain.

‘It’s unacceptable. So we started looking to see if we could find an answer. And this has led to us investing in a new recycling site. We’ve all come a long way towards turning the tide on plastics. But it’s not enough. We need to turn our attention to soft plastics.’

The UK uses around 150 million tons of soft plastics every year. However, until recently the technology has not existed to recycle these types of plastic, which cover a dizzying array of everyday items from salad bags to sweet wrappers.

As a result, the plastic has often ended up incinerated, on landfill sites or exported to the developing world. 

Even where soft plastic is currently collected – for example, at other supermarkets – experts say the final destination recycling plants often ‘cherry-pick’ the items, discarding harder-to-recycle materials.

If the Morrisons pilot scheme – in six Edinburgh stores – proves to be a success, it is set to be rolled out to all 498 shops over the next year

Mr Potts said part of the problem was that there has ‘never been anything it could commercially be used for’. 

But Morrisons will be ‘literally building shops out of the plastic we recycle’ by using the so-called Ecosheets created at its Fife plant instead of plywood. 

The sheets can also be used to build animal barns and require little energy to make. They last ten times longer than plywood and are fully recyclable.

The initiative in Fife makes Morrisons the first UK supermarket to have its own recycling operations. It wants to become the first store to recycle the equivalent amount of plastic sold in its stores by 2025.

lRead more about why David Potts and Morrisons want to revolutionise plastic recycling at mailonsunday.co.uk/potts

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