A new recycling initiative for re-tail-ers

With an estimated 44% of the UK population now having a pet, plastic waste from this sector is a growing problem. In an industry first, nationwide pet care business Pets at Home is introducing dedicated recycling points for pet food packaging made from flexible plastics (plastic that can be bent, squeezed or scrunched). The new initiative, which is being supported by pet food producers Mars and Purina PetCare, is being tested at 40 Pets at Home stores and 3 Vets4Pets practices across the country.

Hubbub has partnered with Pets at Home to support the development of the initiative including creating suitable recycling bins, liaising with recycling companies and designing the communications campaign.

The development of the campaign was informed through public polling, commissioned by Hubbub with 1,600 pet owners. The polling revealed that more than a quarter (26%) are confused over what pet food packaging can or can’t be recycled and that 14% are wanting to see their local pet shop offer a recycling point for pet food packaging. Flexible plastic packaging offers pet owners multiple benefits including a longer shelf life, portion control, and convenience. However it is tricky to recycle, meaning most councils and local recycling points are currently unable to offer flexible plastic recycling.

We're working with UK recycling plant Enval for the trial. They have the technology to recycle flexible plastic, and the pet food pouches go through a specially designed process in which the materials are turned back into new products. Should the trial be a success, the initiative will be rolled out wider across the country with the aim of having recycling points in all Pets at Home stores by the end of next year.

Funding flexible plastic recycling

The support provided by Hubbub is part of our wider focus on flexible plastics recycling, including the development of the Flexible Plastics Fund created by Ecosurety. This fund offers a guaranteed minimum price for flexible plastics, to incentivise jobs and investment in this area.

The Fund is designed around five key principles increasing the viability of collecting and recycling flexible plastics.

  1. It is a collaborative approach funded by five major manufacturers.
  2. It only makes payments once material has been recycled and verified by an external auditor.
  3. 80% of the fund payments must go to UK recyclers with 20% allocated to European industries. As soon as there is sufficient capacity within the UK all the funds will be distributed nationally.
  4. The payments for recycling manufacturers are staggered with higher amounts available for those turning collected material into food-grade products – driving a more circular approach.
  5. The evidence collected through the Fund will be used to encourage wider policy change, so flexible plastics are collected nationally through regular kerbside collections.

The launch of the Fund has already encouraged national retailers such as Sainsbury’s and the Co-op to install flexible plastic recycling facilities nationally and further developments will be announced in the autumn.

Reducing plastic pollution while increasing employee engagement

With the government currently consulting on recycling legislation, Hubbub anticipates that there will be a growing level of corporate activity seeking to reduce plastic pollution, boost circular economy solutions, increase recycling and cut littering. Our role in this shift will be to find collaborative solutions and to actively engage with the public. One such initiative is our Plastic Fishing trips which have been relaunched as COVID restrictions ease. Find out how to book a Plastic Fishing trip for your team

If you'd like to know more about our initiatives tackling plastic waste and pollution, or are interested in collaborating on any of them, drop us a line at [email protected]