Are take back schemes the way forward?
As retailers take an increasingly proactive approach to their own and their customers’ sustainability, are we seeing the resurgence of take back schemes? Previous generations established returning glass bottles to the corner shop as common practice but times, retail and society have changed beyond recognition. However, there is most certainly demand for such schemes – today’s kerbside collection schemes are excellent, but there are still materials for which recycling opportunities are hard to find, and making it easy is an important part in achieving high participation and collection rates.
The news this week that retailers are adding clean plastic film packaging to their plastic bag recycling facilities is well received by the recycling sector and consumers alike. It is a further step forward for the consumer to recycle more plastics. At the same time, it is also enabling retailers to demonstrate to their (unfair) critics that they take sustainability seriously and are identifying solutions that allow them to marry consumer demand for well presented, fresh produce, with reduced packaging and overall environmental impact.
Take back schemes at retail outlets is nothing new. Council-provided recycling points have been commonplace in supermarket car parks, but retailers are now taking greater responsibility for recycling, providing their own recycling bins and in-store initiatives. As they become a one-stop-shop for all household purchases, having such facilities tick many of the boxes; easy recycling, easy to access, no special journeys and for the recycling sector, clean segregated material.