Somerset is taking part in a national trial of kerbside collection of plastic bags and wrapping.
Only a relatively small number of households are involved. If you are included in this trial you will have been written to directly. All other households should continue to recycle as usual.
Guidance for participants
Advice for households involved
- Place your plastic bags and wrapping into the collection bags provided by Somerset Council.
- Tie the bag securely and put it in between your recycling boxes to stop the bag blowing away.
Types of plastic bags and wrapping you should put in your collection bag
- All plastic bags – carrier bags, salad, fruit or vegetable bags, frozen food bags, bread bags, cereal bags, flower bags
- Confectionary wrappers – chocolate, sweets, biscuits, cakes, ice cream and chewing gum wrappers
- Foil lined packaging – crisp packets, snack packets, coffee bags
- Plastic film and sleeves – removable film lids, plastic sleeves for bottles and jars
- Bubble wrap and cling film
- Fruit and vegetable net bags
- Cheese, fish, and meat wrapping
- Outer layer bags and wrapping – multipack, toilet and kitchen roll, magazine, and newspaper wrapping
What not to include
- Crisp tubes
- Plastic straws or cutlery
- All pouches, sachets, and packets – microwaveable food, baby food, pet food, cosmetics, detergent, and cleaning pouches
- Foam or polystyrene of any kind
- Disposable gloves or masks
- Blister packs, pills, and tablets packaging
- Compostable or biodegradable bags and wrapping
- Plastic bottles, pots, tubs, or trays (please use your existing blue bag)
All items should be dry, clean and free from any food.
- Keep your plastic bags and wrapping until you’ve collected enough to put them out on your collection day.
- When putting your plastic bags and wrapping collection bag on the kerbside, tie it securely and put it on top of one of your recycling boxes with your food waste bin or other recycling box on top to stop the bag being blown away.
Ordering more collection bags
Remember to order more bags before you reach the end of your supply. Visit Order replacement bins and recycling containers to request new bags.
Why we put plastic bags and wrapping in a separate collection bag
The process for recycling plastic bags and wrapping is different to recycling other plastic packaging. Whilst other plastics go into Blue bags, plastic bags and wrapping need to be grouped together in a different collection bag so that they can be sorted effectively during the recycling process.
Your plastic bags and wrapping will be collected on your normal recycling collection day.
Types of plastic bags and wrapping that can be put in the recycling collection
We accept all types of plastic bags and wrapping listed in the leaflet you have received, so long as they fit inside the collection bag. Please do not put plastic bags and wrapping loose in with your other recycling. Remember to always use your collection bag and tie it securely.
Further information on the trial
Plastic bags and wrapping refers to flexible plastic packaging that typically bends easily and can include bags, sachets, removable lids, liners (yoghurt pot lids) and wrappings. Plastic bags and wrapping are most commonly used to protect products such as sweets, chocolates, snack foods, frozen foods, bakery, fresh produce, meat, dairy, pet food, processed foods, cosmetics, personal care, householder detergents, beverage bottle and can wrappings.
Why we have introduced a plastic bags and wrapping recycling collection service
We have introduced a new trial service to help make recycling plastic bags and wrapping easier for you. Currently in the UK, only 6% of plastic bags and wrapping are recycled. Offering this service helps you and the rest of Somerset to recycle better, together. The trial is currently available to a small number of households, but it will gradually expand to more households over the next 2 to 3 years.
How long the trial will last
The trial will start in April 2023 and will run until March 2025. It will only be available to a small number of households at the start, but over the course of 2 to 3 years, it will expand other areas of Somerset. The service will go beyond 2025 when government legislation should provide necessary funding for the service to continue.
Why the trial is only available to a small number of households
The trial will run in two stages. The first stage only involves a small section of the area, however over time the service will expand to reach more households across Somerset. Running the trial in stages allows for the project to collect detailed insights and gain an understanding of the best methods to collect plastic bags and wrapping from homes.
There are several other local authorities involved in the trial.
Taking plastic bags and wrapping to front of store points to recycle
If you are involved in the trial, please use the kerbside service to recycle plastic bags and wrapping. If you are not involved, please use the store point collections if you can.
The environmental benefit of recycling plastic bags and wrapping
Creating new products from recycled plastic provides many benefits to the environment. Almost all virgin plastic (plastic that has never been recycled) comes from fossil fuels, and the process of manufacturing plastic creates millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases every year which harms the environment.
The trial will allow us to explore and gain a clear understanding of how recycling plastic bags and wrapping has an effect on carbon savings, reducing climate change and what the environmental impact is for the local community.
What recycled plastic bags and wrapping can be turned into
Recycled plastic bags and wrapping can be used to make a range of new plastic products such as, plastic packaging, ‘bags for life’, boxes, bins, and agricultural and construction materials, reducing the reliance on virgin plastic. For longer term, the aim is to support turning recycled plastic bags and wrapping into plastic packaging for food, enabling the UK to create a fully circular model for using this type of plastic material.
Why plastic bags and wrapping aren’t widely recycled from home
Currently, only 17% of local authorities in the UK offer a collection of plastic bags and wrapping. In future years this is set to change with new regulations, but it will take time. In the UK, the aim is for all local authorities to collect plastic bags and wrapping from homes by 2027. To get to this point, we need to test the best methods for collecting, sorting and recycling plastic film. This trial is part of a wider project called FPF FlexCollect, which focuses on developing best practice and insights into the recyclability of flexible plastic bags and wrapping. Find out more about the FPF FlexCollect project
Other local authorities participating in the trial may be collecting different types of plastic bags and wrapping
To get a detailed understanding of the best way to collect plastic bags and wrapping from the home, the project is testing the collection of various types and combinations. To make sure that you are putting the correct type of plastic bags and wrapping into your collection bag, please refer to the list of what can be recycled in your area.
Why Somerset Council was selected for the trial
Somerset is representative of communities throughout the UK in terms of rurality, economy, geography, recycling services and collection methods. Somerset Council’s recycling infrastructure has the scope to incorporate plastic bags and wrapping collection and sorting into the process. They have also shown enthusiasm in participating in the trial.