Over 3,600 homes in Somerset and 5,000 homes in Newcastle will be able to recycle flexible plastics as part of normal kerbside recycling collections, as these councils join the Flexible Plastic Fund (FPF) FlexCollect pilot.
Currently, only 8% of flexible plastics are collected from homes. This pilot provides insights to inform industry and local authorities ahead of the introduction of compulsory UK-wide kerbside collections planned for 2027.
Newcastle launched on 5 June and provides residents with a fortnightly twin stream collection with glass collected separately, while Somerset, which launched on the 22 May, offers a weekly source segregated collection. Residents in both locations will be provided with a new blue collection bag to collect their flexible plastics, before placing in their existing recycling container to be pulled out at the material recycling facility.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “We all need to do our bit to reduce waste, and I’m delighted to see local authorities from almost the furthest corners of England taking part in this exciting scheme. These pilots and the work of Somerset and Newcastle councils will improve our understanding of how to drive up recycling rates for some of the most difficult plastics, potentially helping all of us recycle more.”
FPF FlexCollect continues to grow
The Fund was launched in 2021 and is collaboratively funded and supported by Abel & Cole, Ella’s Kitchen, Kiddylicious, Koninklijke Douwe Egberts, KP Snacks, Lotus Bakeries, Mars UK, McCain Foods, Mondelēz International, Natural Balance Foods, Nestlé, Ocado Retail, PepsiCo, The Collective, Unilever, United Biscuits and Vitaflo.
The £3m FPF FlexCollect project was launched in May 2022 and is co-managed by a consortium comprising the project co-funders Ecosurety, RECOUP, SUEZ Recycling and Recovery UK and WRAP. FPF is the majority funder of the project with the remaining funding coming from Defra, UKRI’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge and Zero Waste Scotland.
Newcastle and Somerset join South Gloucestershire, Cheltenham and Maldon Councils, with both local authorities offering advantages and learnings to the FPF FlexCollect project with their contrasting demographics and collection systems. Four more local authorities will join FPF FlexCollect in 2023, further increasing the scope of the project and the amount of flexible packaging sent for recycling.
Valuable insights for a sustainable future
Gareth Morton, spokesperson for FPF FlexCollect and Discovery Manager at Ecosurety said: “We are pleased to see the FPF FlexCollect project building steadily, with now five local authorities on board to help us gain valuable insights into how to successfully collect and recycle post-consumer flexible plastics from households. We are looking forward to share openly our initial learnings at the end of this year so the UK can prepare for widespread collections by 2027.”
Councillor Sarah Dyke, Lead Member for Environment and Climate Change at Somerset Council, said: “We’ve expanded kerbside collections and our recycling rate has never been higher - we’ve a lot to be proud of in Somerset and joining this trial was the natural next step. We’re committed to making our county more sustainable and excited to be playing our part in shaping the future of recycling across the UK.”
Cllr Jane Byrne, Newcastle City Council Cabinet member for a Connected, Clean City, said, “Improving the quality of recycling and reducing waste are among our key priorities so I am delighted more than 5,000 homes in Newcastle will be taking part in this exciting trial. The pilot supports the fantastic work we are doing to improve recycling rates in the city, from engaging with communities to highlight the importance of recycling to reducing contamination through the use of indoor recycling smart bags.”
Find out more about FPF FlexCollect.