89% of households happy with flexible plastic collection pilots


Plastic wrap

89% of households were “very satisfied” with the Flexible Plastic Fund FlexCollect project across four pilots surveyed.

The FPF FlexCollect project was set up in May 2022 to understand the best way to collect and recycle flexible plastic packaging and to trial kerbside collections across nine different waste collection authorities over three years.

Halfway through the Flexible Plastic Fund (FPF) FlexCollect project delivery managers SUEZ recycling and recovery UK have released an interim report. The report includes the early findings from the seven local authorities currently running pilots covering nearly 30,000 UK households.

According to the report, flexible plastic packaging collections have been added successfully to existing collection services. The report continued that the collection bags supplied to householders contain the material, keep it clean and withstand significant compaction.

The pilot also shows collection vehicles have enough capacity for the flexible plastic alongside the other recyclable materials they already collect, the report said.

We now need to run some of the pilots at scale to gather more data.

The average weight presented per collection bag per household across all pilots was 291g. Participation monitoring indicated that 60% of households participate regularly. Participation is higher for weekly collections (64%) than fortnightly collections (47%).

Based on data from five compositional analyses, 90% of the materials collected are recyclable. According to the report, 82% of the collected material is targeted flexible plastic packaging that is predominantly clean. Another 6% comprises the collection bags, 2% is non-target recyclables and the remaining 10% is non-target non-recyclable materials.

Gareth Morton, Discovery Manager at Ecosurety and FPF representative commented: “These initial results are really positive and an encouraging proof of concept for further roll-out and expansion of capacity.

The £3m project has been the main focus for the FPF which is the majority funding provider.

“We now need to run some of the pilots at scale to gather more data to properly investigate the longer-term operational and financial impacts of collecting plastic bags and wrappings. We also need to do a lot more on reprocessing before the project ends in March 2025.”

The FPF FlexCollect project is co-managed by a consortium comprising Ecosurety, RECOUP, SUEZ recycling and recovery UK and WRAP.

The £3m project has been the main focus for the FPF which is the majority funding provider. The FPF is also funded and supported by several UK organisations including Nestlé, Ocado Retail, and PepsiCo.

Other funding for the project comes from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and UK Research & Innovation’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) Challenge delivered by Innovate UK and Zero Waste Scotland.

In March 2027, kerbside collections of flexible plastic packaging for recycling will be mandatory in England under extended producer responsibility and the Simpler Recycling reforms.

Do you want to learn more about the FlexCollect project? Next month join CIWM’s webinar with the project’s managers Ecosurety, Suez and Recoup who will give their fascinating insights into the interim report. Remember, CIWM members have exclusive free access to all webinars.


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