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3 minute read

Morrisons invests in plastic recycling site

Morrisons will become the first supermarket to own its own recycling operations, following the acquisition of a significant stake in a new recycling site in Fife. The site will reprocess hard-to-recycle soft plastics, including sweet wrappers, crisp packets, salad bags, and non PET food film. Uniquely within the industry, Morrisons already owns 18 of its own food making sites.

Morrisons has also committed that by 2025, it will recycle and reuse the equivalent amount of plastic it puts out on to the market within its own recycling facilities, to develop greater recycling in the UK. It has already announced it will reduce its own brand plastic packaging by 50 per cent by the same year.

The Fife site is the first of its type in the world. It is co-owned and being constructed by recycling plant specialists Yes Recycling. The plant will turn hard-to-recycle flexible food packaging into plastic flakes, pellets and boards. At current capacity, the site will take 15,000 tonnes of flexible plastic packaging a year.

Morrisons has acquired a significant stake in a new plastic recycling plant in Fife. The site will turn hard-to-recycle flexible food packaging into plastic flakes, pellets and boards / Picture: Invest Fife

The hard-to-recycle soft plastic will be sent to the site from Morrisons distribution sites, and by Cireco Scotland to process kerbside collection material. In the past, this material may have gone to landfill or been incinerated for energy. When these materials enter the site, all of the plastic material is washed and sorted. It is then broken down and turned into flakes and pellets which can be used to make new plastic products in a closed loop.

Morrisons is also looking at ways to use the recycled material from the site for a range of applications, including store fixtures and fittings. In addition, new Ecosheets are being manufactured at the site for use in the agriculture and construction industry.

Jamie Winter, procurement director at Morrisons, said: “Lots of work has been done by retailers to reduce plastic, but little to recycle what remains. We’re taking on that challenge and making a significant investment in a state-of-the-art soft plastic recycling site. It’ll take problematic plastics, recycle them here in the UK, and give them a new life. And by 2025, we want to increase our capability to be able to recycle and reuse the equivalent amount of plastic we put out on to the market within our own facilities.”

Morrisons says its ambition is to recycle the equivalent amount of plastic that it uses by 2025 / Picture: Getty/iStock/jwsc101

Omer Kutluoglu, co-owner of Yes Recycling, added: “This is a ground-breaking site which uses new patented plastic recycling technology, which we’ve developed over the last seven years. It is a blueprint for the future and will help to kick-start the UK’s plastics recycling industry. It will mean we can keep plastic in our own country’s ‘circular economy’ and out of our seas and oceans.”

Since 2017, Morrisons has reduced its own brand plastic packaging by over 8,000 tonnes a year and replaced another 7,000 tonnes, so that it is fully recyclable. Morrisons was the first supermarket to ditch plastic carrier bags in favour of paper carrier bags, to use traditional paper bags for loose fruit and vegetables, and to introduce a refillable container service on fish, meat and deli counters to reduce single-use packaging.

However, in food retail, plastic can also play an important part in protecting and prolonging the shelf life of a product, helping to significantly reduce food waste.

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