Posted: 01/02/2023

UK’s largest flexible plastic household collection and recycling pilot gains momentum

Over 6,500 homes in Maldon, Essex to be part of FPF FlexCollect flexible plastics collection pilot from January 2023.

Maldon District Council is the third local authority to participate in the FPF FlexCollect project to pilot the collection of ‘flexible’ plastics such as plastic bags, confectionery wrappers, foil-lined packaging, plastic film and more from approximately 6,500 households, as part of normal fortnightly recycling collections.

The new service began in January 2023 in selected areas and covers a variety of family sizes and housing types. Those households selected to take part have received information on how to use the new plastic bags and wrapping collection service together with special collection bags before the new service begins.

This is the first year of a three-year trial which, will eventually roll out to all households across the district by the end of 2024.

Flexible plastics are a considerable challenge as they represented 22% of all UK consumer plastic packaging in 2020 but only 8% were recycled from kerbside collections. Supermarket front-of-store collection points recycle plastic bags and wrapping. This trial will help to change that by helping to inform the government and industry on how flexible plastics should be added to existing household recycling collection services ahead of the introduction of consistent collections for all households in England in 2027.

The FPF FlexCollect project was launched in May 2022 and is the most extensive pilot for household collection and recycling of plastic bags and wrapping packaging to be undertaken in the UK. Maldon District Council joins the first two pilots in Cheltenham and South Gloucestershire which started in October 2022. They will be part of nine pilots across England that will help to make recycling plastic bags and wrapping more convenient for everyone, which will increase the amount of packaging that the UK recycles.

The £3m FlexCollect project is co-managed by a consortium comprising the project co-funders, Ecosurety, RECOUP, SUEZ recycling and recovery UK and WRAP. It is funded by a number of organisations, such as the Flexible Plastic Fund composed of a number of UK’s leading manufacturers: Mars UK, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever. Partners of the Fund now also include Abel & Cole, Ella’s Kitchen, The Collective, Kiddylicious, Koninklijke Douwe Egberts, KP Snacks, McCain Foods, Tilda, United Biscuits, Vitaflo, Yeo Valley Farms, Lotus Bakeries, Natural Balance Foods, Ocado Retail and WARP Snacks.  Also supporting the project are Defra, UKRI’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge (SSPP) and Zero Waste Scotland.

Gareth Morton, Flexible Plastic Fund spokesperson and Discovery Manager at Ecosurety, said: “We are really pleased to usher in the new year with Maldon District Council’s participation in the FPF FlexCollect project.

“It is really exciting and encouraging to have local authorities coming on board and see the project momentum building. Ultimately, this project will benefit communities right across England.

Councillor Penny Channer, Leader of Maldon District Council, said: “I am extremely pleased that our District has been chosen to be part of this trial, and the only authority in Essex to be chosen so far. This trial is another step towards making the District more environmentally sustainable and reducing our carbon footprint through the reduction of plastics going to landfill.

“While this is only a trial at the moment, I look forward to seeing this scheme rolled out to all residents by the end of 2024. I would like to thank officers in our Waste Services team at Maldon District Council, our waste collection contractor, SUEZ UK, and the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), for their work in bringing this exciting scheme to the Maldon District.”

Thomas Merry, Technical Development Manager for SUEZ recycling and recovery UK and FPF Project Director, said: ‘As a pilot, the project needs to consider how flexible plastics can be incorporated into different collection systems, in different areas. Recruiting Maldon for the project allows us to expand the pilot into the south east and twin-stream recycling collections, at the same time as giving participating residents the opportunity to recycle more of their waste.’For more information visit