Archive for June, 2023

Polytag and Biffa partner to help Ocado Retail, Co-op and Aldi gain unprecedented packaging lifecycle data

Posted: 29/06/2023

Polytag and Biffa partner to help Ocado Retail, Co-op and Aldi gain unprecedented packaging lifecycle data

As part of RECOUP’s ‘Bottle to Bottle’ project, Polytag, the recycling technology company, and Biffa, the sustainable waste management company, will enable three of the UK’s largest retailers, the UK’s largest dairy cooperative, Arla Foods, and Müller Milk & Ingredients to better understand when and where their packaging is being recycled. This will also arm Biffa with invaluable real-time data to revolutionise its recycling operations.


14 JUNE: Recycling tech pioneer, Polytag, and sustainable waste management company Biffa, have announced their collaboration with UK retailers Ocado Retail, Co-op, and Aldi to provide them with never-before-seen packaging lifecycle data. The businesses have joined forces as part of plastics, resource, efficiency and recycling charity RECOUP’s 26-week long ‘Bottle to Bottle’ project, in conjunction with label printer Interket UK, the UK’s largest dairy co-operative Arla Foods and Müller Milk & Ingredients.

The project will see Co-op’s water bottles and Aldi and Ocado’s milk marked with UV 2D tags, printed by Interket UK, with a Polytag UV tag reader retrofitted onto the plastic conveyor at Biffa’s Teesside MRF in the northeast of England.

Through monitoring analytics via the Polytag dashboard, the retailers will be able to access real-time data insights, such as where, when and how much packaging has been recycled to help optimise sustainability strategies.

Moreover, Polytag will enable Biffa to start to capture real-time data on packaging composition directly through their processing operations, informing recycling strategy, investment in sorting, recovery equipment, and the onward tracking of materials.

Alice Rackley, CEO of Polytag, commented: “Polytag is a practical solution delivering actionable insights to solve recycling challenges. We’re pleased to be working with RECOUP to form part of its innovative project to address recycling rates in northeast England. Growing numbers of stakeholders are becoming aware of the necessity of data to incite meaningful change when it comes to recycling, and we know the power this never-before-seen data can have for brands and retailers committed to delivering their sustainability goals”.

Anne Hitch, Business and Project Development Lead, for RECOUP, added: “RECOUP have long called for transparent, robust, and granular data on packaging recycling to give a complete picture of behaviours and help inform policy and infrastructure developments.”

Carla Brian, Senior Commercial Development Manager for Biffa also added: “Biffa is a pioneer in closed-loop plastic recycling, and we’re committed to exploring new technologies to further optimise resource recovery. We are delighted to be working with RECOUP and Polytag to gather new insights and data about plastic packaging, which will inform strategic decision-making and shape response to recycling policy in the UK.”

David Acott, Operations Director (UK) for Interket UK, continued: “Following the success of the initial project with Polytag and Ocado Retail, in which our Ecoket range of materials was used to print over 5 million labels onto the retailers’ packaging, we are proud to be involved again on a project with similarly exciting implications for the circular economy. By working with Polytag’s retrofitted technology, our labels open up hugely promising opportunities for brands and retailers. We are looking forward to seeing their impact.”


To learn more about Polytag’s UV tag reading technology, read the latest report on their website here:


To learn more about Biffa’s plastic recycling visit,

RECOUP launches new Refill Packaging Case Studies on World Refill Day

Posted: 15/06/2023

RECOUP launches new Refill Packaging Case Studies on World Refill Day

To celebrate and support World Refill Day on 16 June, plastics resource efficiency and recycling charity, RECOUP, has launched a new case study looking at the growing trend of refill products and their associated packaging.

While bulk refill purchases have been utilised for commercial needs and cost efficiency measures for many years, growing concern about the environmental impact of packaging makes refills an attractive option for everyday household shopping. Refillable packaging allows consumers to continue to use the original product packaging by offering a refill solution, often distributed in an alternative packaging format with the aim to reduce environmental impact of both products and packaging. More and more brands and retailers are offering refill solutions to meet customer demand and achieve companies’ sustainability targets.

The RECOUP Refill Packaging Case Studies found that refills are widely offered in the household and personal care markets, especially for products such as soap, shampoo, and cleaning liquids, however refill solutions for food and drink products are currently scarcer on the UK market. It also details that numerous formats for the refill containers, such as pouches, bottles, tubes, sachets, jerry cans, and cartons, are available with all formats having their own benefits and potential disadvantages.

Materials used in packaging designed for reuse (both in terms of the refill packaging and the refillable packaging) and their suitability for reuse applications as well as recyclability are also investigated. The new study also considers the environmental message communicated to the consumer and whether this is clear and transparent around green claims and the refill and reuse system.

Richard Cham, Senior Packaging & Recyclability Projects Officer comments ‘‘Reuse is a step forward in reducing plastic waste, but it is important to remember that everything has a life expectancy and reusable packaging is no different.  At some stage, these packs will need to be disposed of and ensuring they are designed with end-of-life in mind is paramount.’

RECOUP concludes that while not always a circular solution, refills and refillable packaging play a vital role in normalising refill and increasing consumers involvement in reuse schemes.

The Refill Packaging Case Study is available to RECOUP members to download from its website here.

RECOUP Recyclability by Design, the essential guide for all those involved in the development and design of plastic packaging is available to all to download from the RECOUP website.

RECOUP Reusability by Design, the reusable plastic packaging design guidance for the value chain is also readily available to everyone to download from the RECOUP Website

Both RECOUP documents assist stakeholders with the design of recyclable and reusable plastic packaging that meets the needs of the value chain from packaging manufacturers, packer/fillers, brands, retailers, consumers, service providers through to waste management companies.

RECOUP Awards entry deadline only 4 weeks away!

Posted: 14/06/2023

RECOUP Awards entry deadline only 4 weeks away!

RECOUP Plastics Recycling Annual Awards 2023: Celebrating Excellence in Plastics Recycling and Resource Efficiency

With only 4 weeks left to enter the prestigious RECOUP Plastics Recycling Annual Awards 2023, plastics resource efficiency and recycling charity RECOUP is urging all organisations and individuals involved in the plastics recycling industry to submit their entries before the deadline on 14 July 2023. The awards are FREE to enter and celebrate excellence in plastics resource efficiency and recycling, and champion those leading a more circular plastics value chain.

There are 3 award categories and no limit on the number of entries:

  1. Best Development or Innovation to Enhance Plastic Products for Recyclability or Re-Use.
  2. Recycled Plastic Product of the Year.
  3. Best Innovation in Equipment or Technology to Improve the Collection, Sorting, Reprocessing or Re-use of Plastics.

The awards will be presented at the RECOUP Awards & Pre-conference Networking Dinner on Wednesday 27 September 2023, at the Holiday Inn, Peterborough West and will recognise and celebrate the innovative and inspiring projects and initiatives that have helped to drive the plastics recycling industry forward and lead to a more sustainable future.

Rebecca Davis, Membership & Events Manager at RECOUP comments:  “We believe that this is an excellent opportunity for organisations and individuals to showcase their achievements and be recognised for their contributions to the plastics recycling industry.  We have managed to secure an esteemed judging panel that will be announced on social media and are excited to receive entries for our new award categories before 14 July”.

To apply for the awards, please visit the RECOUP website and complete the online entry form.

The awards are followed by RECOUP’s not-to-be-missed event of the year, the Plastics Resource and Recycling Conference, which is held at Kingsgate Conference Centre, Peterborough on Thursday 28 September and attracts delegates from the entire plastics and wider sustainability value chain. Tickets can be booked via the RECOUP website.

Limited awards and conference sponsorship opportunities are also still available, please email for more information or if you require any assistance with the award entry.

Somerset and Newcastle Join the UK’s Largest Flexible Plastic Household Collection and Recycling Pilot

Posted: 12/06/2023

Somerset and Newcastle Join the UK’s Largest Flexible Plastic Household Collection and Recycling Pilot

Somerset Council and Newcastle City Council are the latest local authorities to join the FPF FlexCollect flexible plastic collection pilot this Spring.

As part of the pilot, over 3,600 homes in Somerset and 5,000 homes in Newcastle will have the opportunity to recycle flexible plastics such as plastic bags, wrappers, packets, and films as part of normal kerbside recycling collections. The collections will expand to more residents in both locations over the next two years.

Newcastle and Somerset join South Gloucestershire, Cheltenham and Maldon Councils, with both local authorities offering advantages and learnings to the FPF FlexCollect project with their contrasting demographics and collection systems. An additional four local authorities are set to join FPF FlexCollect in 2023, further increasing the scope of the project and the amount of flexible packaging sent for recycling.

Newcastle launched on 5th June and provides residents with a fortnightly twin stream collection with glass collected separately, while Somerset, which launched on the 22nd May, offers a weekly source segregated collection. Residents in both locations will be provided with a new blue collection bag to collect their flexible plastics, before placing in their existing recycling container to be pulled out at the material recycling facility.

With only 8% of flexible plastics currently collected from home, the pilot is providing insights to inform industry and local authorities ahead of the introduction of compulsory UK-wide kerbside collections planned for 2027.

To tackle this issue, key players in the industry, including manufacturers and brands, stepped up to the challenge and set up the Flexible Plastic Fund. The Fund was launched in 2021 and is collaboratively funded and supported by the following UK organisations: Abel & Cole, Ella’s Kitchen, Kiddylicious, Koninklijke Douwe Egberts, KP Snacks, Lotus Bakeries, Mars UK, McCain Foods, Mondelēz International, Natural Balance Foods, Nestlé, Ocado Retail, PepsiCo, The Collective, Unilever, United Biscuits and Vitaflo.

The £3m FPF FlexCollect project was launched in May 2022 and is co-managed by a consortium comprising the project co-funders, Ecosurety, RECOUP, SUEZ recycling and recovery UK and WRAP. The project has been the principal focus for the FPF which is the majority funder, with the remaining funding coming from Defra, UKRI’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge and Zero Waste Scotland.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “We all need to do our bit to reduce waste, and I’m delighted to see local authorities from almost the furthest corners of England taking part in this exciting scheme. These pilots and the work of Somerset and Newcastle councils will improve our understanding of how to drive up recycling rates for some of the most difficult plastics, potentially helping all of us recycle more.”

Gareth Morton, spokesperson for FPF FlexCollect and Discovery Manager at Ecosurety said: “We are pleased to see the FPF FlexCollect project building steadily, with now five local authorities on board to help us gain valuable insights into how to successfully collect and recycle post-consumer flexible plastics from households. We are looking forward to share openly our initial learnings at the end of this year so the UK can prepare for widespread collections by 2027.”

Councillor Sarah Dyke, Lead Member for Environment and Climate Change at Somerset Council, said: “We’ve expanded kerbside collections and our recycling rate has never been higher – we’ve a lot to be proud of in Somerset and joining this trial was the natural next step. We’re committed to making our county more sustainable and excited to be playing our part in shaping the future of recycling across the UK.”

Cllr Jane Byrne, Newcastle City Council Cabinet member for a Connected, Clean City, said, “Improving the quality of recycling and reducing waste are among our key priorities so I am delighted more than 5,000 homes in Newcastle will be taking part in this exciting trial. The pilot supports the fantastic work we are doing to improve recycling rates in the city, from engaging with communities to highlight the importance of recycling to reducing contamination through the use of indoor recycling smart bags.”

Thomas Merry, Commercialisation and Innovation Manager for SUEZ recycling and recovery UK and FPF Project Director, said “The addition of Somerset and Newcastle to the FPF FlexCollect project complements the current pilots well, with the urban inner-city area of Newcastle and Somerset’s rural population providing an interesting contrast with the pilot areas already up and running. This will build on our learnings so far, providing valuable insight into participation rates and volumes from different communities.”

Steve Morgan, Head of Policy & Infrastructure at RECOUP added: “We’re delighted to see two more Local Authorities on board. The diversity of the urban inner-city area of Newcastle and rural population in Somerset will provide invaluable insight to collect and recycle post-consumer flexible plastics. RECOUP continue to lead on two key areas of the project – both on understanding of the composition of the collected material and recycling end markets. We are learning a lot and FlexCollect continues to be a fascinating project for us.”

About FPF FlexCollect

FPF FlexCollect is a £3m pilot to collect and recycle flexible plastic packaging from households in the UK. Initiated and led by the Flexible Plastic Fund (FPF), and including some of the UK’s leading manufacturers, the project benefits from the cross-industry expertise of leading industry and government partners, including Defra, Ecosurety, UK Research and Innovation Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge, SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, RECOUP, LARAC, WRAP and Zero Waste Scotland.

The other local authorities that are already part of the project include Cheltenham Borough Council, South Gloucestershire Council and Maldon District Council.

About The Flexible Plastic Fund

The Flexible Plastic Fund is a collaborative fund giving value to flexible plastic films, so they are properly recycled. Managed by market-leading producer responsibility compliance scheme Ecosurety, the Fund was established in May 2021 by five founding partners: Mars UK, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever. Partners of the Fund now include Abel & Cole, Ella’s Kitchen, Kiddylicious, Koninklijke Douwe Egberts, KP Snacks, Lotus Bakeries, McCain Foods, Natural Balance Foods, Ocado Retail, The Collective, United Biscuits and Vitaflo.

In collaboration with manufacturers, retailers and recyclers, the Fund intends to improve flexible plastic recycling and reduce plastic pollution by giving the material a stable value. This will in turn increase the supply of recycled plastic for the industry to become more ‘circular’. This will motivate investment in much-needed jobs and infrastructure to make flexible plastic recycling a financially sustainable system in the UK. Through supporting the Flexible Plastic Fund, partners will contribute to system-wide progress driving towards household collection of this valuable material and ultimately closing the loop on flexible plastic production. Find out more: