In the bag: Maldon joins pilot project to recycle flexible plastics

In the bag: Maldon joins pilot project to recycle flexible plastics

A pilot scheme to collect and recycle flexible plastics from homes in the UK has been extended to Maldon, Essex, to make it easier for residents to recycle packaging that would otherwise end up in landfill.

Over 6,500 homes in Maldon can now participate in the Flexible Plastics Fund’s (FPF) ‘FlexCollect’ trial, which is making flexible plastic part of the city’s normal fortnightly recycling collections.

The FlexCollect project is conducting a series of trials across the UK to enable a nationwide rollout of recycling collection services that include flexible plastics as standard.

The new trial will run for three years, starting in select areas of Maldon representing a cross-section of household types, before expanding to all households in the region by the end of 2024.

Flexible plastics, which include plastic sheeting, foil-lined packaging and confectionery packaging, cannot be recycled along with rigid plastics, and currently only 17 percent of municipalities offer home collection services.

While flexible plastics are recyclable and can be dropped off at many supermarket collection points, most of these plastics still end up in landfill due to inconvenience and lack of awareness. Despite accounting for 22 per cent of UK consumer plastic, only 8 per cent of flexible plastics were recycled in 2020, according to the FPF.

Therefore, the FlexCollect project aims to help reduce the amount of waste going to landfill in the UK by introducing roadside collection services with the help of local authorities. Maldon is the third district to take part, following starts in Cheltenham and South Gloucestershire in October last year. A further six regional trials are planned.

FPF spokesman Gareth Morton said: “It’s really exciting and encouraging to see local authorities coming on board and seeing the project gain momentum. Ultimately, this project will benefit communities across England.”

FPF funded the £3m FlexCollect study with support from some of the UK’s leading food manufacturers including Nestlé and Mondelēz.

The trials aim to demonstrate that flexible plastic can be collected and processed on a large scale through kerbside services before the Government plans to standardize recycling collection schemes across the UK from 2027.

Thomas Merry, technical development manager at waste management giant SUEZ Recycling and Recovery UK and FPF project manager, said: “As a pilot project, the project needs to explore how flexible plastics can be integrated into different collection systems in different areas.”

Explaining why Maldon was selected as the next district for the program, Merry said the project allows the initiative to “expand the pilot to the Southeast and dual-stream recycling collections, while also allowing participating residents to recycle more of their waste.” “.

Maldon Councilwoman Penny Channer welcomed the launch of the pilot, hailing the trial as “another step in making the district greener and reducing our carbon footprint by reducing the amount of plastic going to landfill.”

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