Tesco becomes first Irish retailer to recycle soft plastics for customers
4 February 2021
Waste turned into new solid structures including car-park barriers and signs
Customers can dispose of soft plastics from purchases in Tesco’s 151 stores
Tesco Ireland announced today it has become the first retailer in Ireland to create a recycling solution for soft plastics. To date soft plastics have not been recyclable through the national household recycling bin infrastructure in Ireland.
Partnering with Irish manufacturing company Paltech, Tesco will now be able to recycle materials such as coloured soft plastics for the first time. Using Paltech patented technology, these plastics will be flaked and prepared for processing into construction materials to be used in the Tesco Ireland store network for new stores, and in store maintenance and refits including buildings, car-park barriers and signage, in the near future.
At instore collection points, made from waste plastic, to be rolled out to all 151 stores by March 2021, customers will be able to simply remove unwanted soft plastic packaging - such as cling wrap or outer wrap from water bottle multi-packs - at the end of their shopping trip. Customers can also leave behind hard, recyclable plastic packaging, such as multi-pack fresh produce packaging, which will be recycled as normal.
Ms Kari Daniels, CEO, Tesco Ireland, said she is very proud her business is the first retailer in Ireland to create a recycling solution for soft, coloured plastics, which cannot currently be recycled using the kerbside infrastructure in Ireland.
“Tesco has been working hard for a long time to remove plastic from its business. Where we need packaging, because it serves a clear purpose like reducing food waste or to protect a product in transit, we do our best to ensure that what we do use is from sustainable sources and where possible, goes on to be reused or recycled,” Ms Daniels said.
“Our overall ambition is to only use plastic which serves a clear purpose. We are listening to our customers and working to make changes where we can. We know we have more to do, and today, we’re proud to be the first retailer to provide a recycling solution for soft plastics in Ireland. We’re particularly proud to partner with Paltech, an indigenous start-up, as we seek to address the recycling of soft plastics within Ireland.”
Adrian Doyle, Research and Development Director Paltech, said that Paltech is proud to partner with Tesco on their journey as the first Irish retailer to close the loop on their mixed soft plastic waste.
“Paltech has developed a proprietary manufacturing solution, that can repurpose all types of post-consumer plastic packaging into products with a long lifespan, which can also be further recycled at their end of life.”
“Paltech is looking forward to working with Tesco to extend the range of products that they can use throughout their store network to ensure that the closed loop system continues to operate for many years to come. Our partnership with Tesco is an exciting step forward to support Ireland in reaching the EU recycling commitment of 55% of all packaging waste to be recycled by 2030,”
Tesco has been reducing the amount of non-recyclable soft plastics in use in its stores as part of its ambitious plastic reduction targets – all packaging on Tesco-brand products will be fully recyclable by 2025. To date, the company has made progress on removing hard to recycle materials from its own-label products:
- 5 million pieces of plastic shrouds from multipack canned goods
- 359 tonnes of PVC and 40 tonnes of Polystyrene materials from product packaging
- 550 tonnes of plastic have been replaced with detectable and recyclable plastic on meat and produce.
As it works towards its 2025 targets, this announcement is an important step in creating a closed loop, ensuring that soft plastics are recycled, rather than sent to landfill or incinerated. Tesco has sent no food waste to landfill since 2009.
Notes for Editors:
Paltech (Polymer Alloy Technology) is an Irish start-up based in Galway, with a pilot plant in Nurney, Co Kildare that has developed an innovative system through which mixed waste plastics (difficult to recycle) can be recycled. Through Enclosed Pressure Moulding (EPM), the company can flake and then mould waste plastic into heavy walled products such as poles, median motorway barriers and more.
The intention is that these new hard structure products will be used as a construction material for new stores and maintenance and refits of Tesco stores and properties.
Tesco’s ambition is to ensure all packaging on own-label products will be fully recyclable by 2025. As it works towards this target, this announcement is an important step in creating a closed loop, ensuring that soft plastics are recycled, rather than sent to landfill or incinerated.
In 2020, the Tesco Ireland business changed its waste processes at store level, backhauling food waste for anaerobic digestion at Green Generation creating renewable gas which the business purchases to power six of its stores.
While today’s announcement relates to ‘customer-facing’ soft plastic, Tesco has also worked with Paltech and its renewable energy partner Green Generation to address plastics which customers do not see. As a leader in food waste management, Tesco focusses on minimising food waste throughout the supply chain and on redistributing any surplus through its partnership with FoodCloud and through its Colleague shop internally. It is only after those efforts are exhausted that Tesco progresses to anaerobic digestion. As part of its process to create green energy from surplus food which cannot be donated, all plastic is removed - with hard plastic recycled as normal, where possible, and soft plastic reused through the Paltech process.