Co-op signs up to new plastics recycling programme

The Co-operative

National food retailer, the Co-op, has indicated that it will support the Plastic Industry Recycling Action Plan, or PIRAP. The scheme was launched in 2015 by Plastics 2020 and WRAP, and is aimed at promoting the adoption of initiatives to increase the amount of plastic packaging recycling at every node in the supply chain. PIRAP hopes to boost the amount of plastic recycling in the UK from just over 30 percent to around 60 percent by 2017.

The Co-op has been vocal in urging others to get on board. The company’s environmental manager spoke recently of how proud he was to support the recycling initiative, stating that the company recognised the importance of as many people and companies as possible playing their part in the struggle to increase recycling of plastic packaging.

The environmental manager went on to say that, whilst the Co-op is committed to delivering a significant boost to the recyclability of their packaging, they accept that change can only arise from the whole industrial supply chain working together. The Co-op is the first British retailer to have subscribed to the PIRAP plastic recycling initiative, and it used the opportunity to call for other suppliers, logistics firms and retailers to join in.

Concerning the Co-op’s own steps as part of the PIRAP programme, the environmental manager suggested that the high street retailer has some “interesting innovations” in the works for its packaging, and is relying on the company’s rich and compelling history of “doing the right thing” in the early adoption and promotion of the recycling of plastics among its customers – a tradition which has given the Co-op its ethical associations.

The British Plastics Federation, one of the key promoters of the PIRAP scheme, describes it as a collaborative approach, bringing the whole supply chain of plastic packaging together for the first time, to discuss how to implement the Government’s plastic recycling targets in a united way. The programme brings together the national government, local authorities and councils, waste management and processing companies, plastics recycling businesses and other businesses falling under the purview of the Waste Packaging Regulations. This last category includes brand owners, retailers, package fillers and converters.

PIRAP could be an important demonstration, therefore, of how changes made at each separate stage of the supply chain can affect recycling throughout the entire chain, laying out a blueprint for other industrial sectors to follow.

More than 47 businesses, including the Co-op, have signed up so far. The scheme presents companies with a basic planning outline to help them increase the recycling of plastics, along with some targets and challenges to focus on. These cover improvements in both the quality and quantity of plastic packaging recycling to their associates in both directions along the supply chain.

PIRAP also seeks to improve household and consumer engagement, by increasing the types of plastics that councils recycle from home collections, as well as seeking to create more end-markets for plastic regrinds. A consortium to consider end-life when designing packaging itself is also to be arranged.

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