Analysis of retailers' front of store plastic film collection

29th November 2016

This report details the results of WRAP’s UK wide research project to identify what is being collected at front of store collection points for plastic film packaging and is intended for use by retailers selling items that use plastic film.

Key points
Single use carrier bags amounted to 23.8% in Northern Ireland and 16.2% in Wales. England and Scotland by comparison had percentages of 60.2% and 54.6%
Wales and Northern Ireland had the highest proportions with 40% and 60%, respectively, compared to 15.5% in England and 9% in Scotland



WRAP commissioned a UK wide research project to undertake compositional analysis at different retailers to identify what is being collected at front of store collection points for plastic film packaging. The aim of the project was to determine the efficiency of the On-Pack Recycling Label (OPRL) in promoting the recycling message to consumers and to determine the typical levels of contamination in retailers’ front of store plastic film collections.

The research found that where a charge/levy for carrier bags was already in place, the quantity of plastic packaging collected was lower, and resulted in the proportion of unrequested materials becoming more evident (e.g. 40% in Wales and 60% in Northern Ireland). This could significantly reduce the value of this recycling stream and even contribute to the decision to remove the collection points from stores located in those areas.

To find out more about the scope of this research and the results, please download the full report:

Download the full report >>



There are a number of recommendations emanating from the results of this work which may aid in the promotion of the OPRL scheme and in the recycling of plastic film at front of store. These are listed as follows:

  • Although "buy in" to front of store recycling was excellent from a senior management point of view, there may be benefit in ensuring that this is translated further to a store level. Further buy in from individual store managers of the importance of the scheme may improve up take levels and ensure that the material collected within the bins does not get discarded.
  • Linked to above, retailers should be encouraged to ensure that recycling containers are placed in easy to access areas and that any branding is clear and attractive to consumers.
  • It could be beneficial for retailers to provide information close to the containers to allow consumers, and retail staff, to know exactly what can go into the containers and minimise the level of unrequested material. In addition to this, adequate signage may increase quantities collected in areas where the carrier bag charge/levy is currently in place as consumers would know that it is not just plastic carrier bags that are accepted. This would provide the opportunity for further promotion of the OPRL scheme within the stores themselves which would be an extremely effective way of passing information through to general consumers.
  • Consideration should be afforded to ensuring that recycling facilities continue to be placed in areas where the carrier bag charge/levy is in operation in order to encourage the collection of additional plastic film categories.
  • Further information on local authority websites and store websites regarding the OPRL scheme and plastic film recycling points would be beneficial. It would appear that, without prior knowledge in the management of these materials, it is relatively time consuming to find the necessary information. This could be aided by ensuring that valuable information on the WRAP, Recycle Now and OPRL schemes are more visible within web search engines.
  • There could be a benefit in repeating this study at different times of the year in order to determine, as with other forms of recycling, the impact that seasonality and holiday periods have on this collection regime.



To find information related to this report, please use the following links:

Plastics in Dry Materials section >>
Types of plastics in recycling >>
Collection and sorting of household rigid plastic packaging >>
Plastics Industry Recycling Action Plan (PIRAP) >>
Plastics Market Situation Report >>

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