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  • Writer's pictureGee

Soft plastics; what is that again?

Updated: Sep 14, 2021

If like me, you have been watching a little bit of TV recently, you may have seen that Co-Op has started collecting soft plastics at their stores. But they weren't the first!

I personally had no idea what a soft plastic was and that they even existed. However, it does make a lot of sense. I didn't realise how much plastic has infiltrated the way we live. In London there is a man who walks around saying 'plastic is the new asbestos' and he could not be more right.

So let's get into the detail. What is a soft plastic?

A soft plastic tends to be used to package our food

For example, biscuit wrappers, bread bags, crisps packets, pasta packaging and the list goes on. Soft plastics then goes further, so think about all your lovely clothes deliveries that come in that stretchy material, appliances that are covered and cling film! All of it. My Asos deliveries are massive plastic culprits. Once you look at it like this, the war on plastic is huge.

Unfortunately, plastic is very convenient. Here at Hug Hampers we actively try to avoid it as much as possible; our view towards the war on plastic is to avoid single plastic use. Our Hug Hampers and their contents use materials that can be reused, recycled, composted or biodegrades. However, it isn't always practical as some items currently do not have suitable alternatives. Have a look at our current selection of hampers here to see what I mean.

Soft plastics can be made from a number of different materials making them more complex to recycle. Typically they are made from the following:

  • Low-density polyethylene

  • High-density polyethylene

  • Polypropylene

  • Polyethylene terephthalate

  • Polyvinyl chloride

  • Polystyrene

Soft plastics aren't typically collected by your local recycling service and tends to end up in the bin. Supermarkets like Tesco have been collecting soft plastics since 2018. In 2018 Tesco launched a trial in 10 stores and have since rolled out this soft plastic collection service in 171 stores. They have chosen the stores quite randomly in my opinion, as my local stores do not undertake this service. However, if you live in Bristol, Harrow or Oxford, pop down to your local store and check it out.

Sainsbury's offers a flexible plastics recycling scheme at their stores. They have expanded this to 520 stores across the country to recycle items since 82% of local authorities do not collect at the kerbside. Co-op offers this scheme at 1,500 stores and plans to offer it at another 800 by the end of the year. Morrisons also offer something similar but by my quick search, it doesn't look like Asda has made it to the party yet.

This begs the question to me, why aren't the local councils doing better? Surely it isn't the responsibility of the supermarkets to be leading this effort. Making recycling complicated and difficult isn't beneficial to our society. By having different rules it will discourage those who aren't active in this space. Having to remember to bring along your soft plastics as well as the shopping list and your bags for the weekly shop, it might be one too many things for most. However, at least there is a facility to encourage this.

So let's recap what soft plastics are:

  • bread bags

  • crisps packets

  • yoghurt lids things

  • pasta and rice packaging

  • chocolate and biscuit packaging

  • salad bags

  • baby food packaging

  • pet food pouches

This link from the Co-op website is great for finding out what you can recycle and where it can be recycled.

So how to recycle soft plastics?

  • Locate your nearest soft plastic recycling location.

  • Create space in your home for these types of plastics, give them a rinse too.

  • Finally, identify a good space in your diary where you can add a stop in and recycle your soft plastics. It could be on your way to the supermarket, one evening when you are walking the dog, going for a run. Try to attach it to something you already do.

Then that's it! I know, easier said than done but every little helps.

As always, if you have made it this far, thank you! We would love to hear your thoughts and any ideas you have for a blog. Speak soon x

Gee, Co-Founder @ Hug Hampers ox

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