Co-op launches new recycling initiative trial


Co-op is launching a trial to uncover the number of its own-brand plastic bottles that are being recycled to improve its understanding of true recycling figures to help benchmark future rates for the industry.

The UK convenience retailer says it is working in partnership with Polytag – a technology business that enables a circular economy for packaging – to collect recycling data that will showcase the exact number of Co-op bottles that are being sorted at recycling centres. Co-op says it will be the first brand in the world to start collecting data in this way.

Co-op will start the UV label trial with its 2lt still spring water line and will look to expand further as the trial develops.

As part of this trial, Co-op says it will add a UV invisible code to the label of one of its best-selling own-brand spring water lines. When the bottle reaches a specific recycling centre in North Wales, the UV code will be identified by specialist equipment that is fitted to the sorting machines and the data collected will be uploaded in real-time to a cloud.

This new trial will enable Co-op to gather valuable insight to provide guidance and measurement for future initiatives.

Co-op says that Polytag is working in partnership with UK devolved governments and recycling facility operators to extend the rollout and installation of more UV tag readers across the country, to deliver more useful data to brands that want to know if single-use packaging is getting recycled, and measure the success of initiatives designed to improve recycling rates over time.

Last year Co-op announced that all of its brand food packaging is 100% recyclable, which it said was in part thanks to its in-store recycling scheme for soft plastics.

Commentating on the trial launch, MD, Co-op Food, Matt Hood, said: “We all have our part to play when it comes to recycling and, as a retailer, we want to gain a greater understanding of a product’s journey in the recycling chain to help paint a clearer picture and support future traceability.

“This new trial will enable Co-op to gather valuable insight to provide guidance and measurement for future initiatives to encourage more people to recycle and it will also support the industry with true benchmarks for recycling rates in the UK for the very first time.”

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