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Plastic bags & wrapping recycling trial to be expanded

A street scene of wheelie bins and boxes with blue bags at the end of people's drives lining the road

Following the resounding success of our plastic bags & wrapping recycling trial in Knebworth, North Herts Council is pleased to announce that the scheme is being expanded to over 6,000 homes, as agreed by the council’s Cabinet on Tuesday, 19 March.

Since November, Knebworth residents have been filling up dedicated blue bags delivered by the council, with plastic bags and wrapping, such as confectionery wrappers, crisp packets, foil-lined packaging, plastic film and bubble wrap (no pouches). Blue bags simply then go into their (blue) paper box.  

Around 2,200 properties are in the initial Knebworth trial, with 6,250 properties joining in the expansion from July, meaning around 8,500 properties will be involved in total. Anyone not in the original trial or new expansion can take their plastic bags and wrapping to a local supermarket collection point.   

Cllr Amy Allen, North Herts Council’s Executive Member for Recycling & Waste, said: “It's been great to see the blue bags lining the streets of Knebworth, and it’s fantastic that we are now able to expand it to other areas in the district. The exact area for the expansion has not yet been finalised, but is unlikely to fit neatly into geographic ward boundaries, as that’s not how our collection rounds work.”

Cllr Tom Tyson, North Herts Council’s deputy Executive Member for Recycling & Waste, added: “The separate collection of plastic bags and wrapping – whether you’re in the Knebworth trial, the new expansion, or taking them to your local supermarket – has a dramatic impact on what’s left in a non-recyclable (purple) bin, and therefore what gets sent to landfill. I have been taking my soft plastics to the collection point at our local supermarket for over a year and know first-hand how much even a small household can generate.”

North Herts Council has been chosen to take part in this fully-funded project to test the collection of plastic bags and wrapping at the kerbside to inform government and industry on how plastic bags and wrapping should be added to existing household collection services. Plastic bags and wrapping are a considerable challenge, and at the moment can only be recycled via supermarket collection points.

Participating households in the new expansion area will receive full details of the scheme, including exactly what can and can’t be collected and how bags should be presented on their usual collection day. All being well, we hope to expand to the whole district of North Herts as part of our new waste contract in 2025.

The trial is part of a larger £2.9m Flexible Plastic Fund (FPF) ‘FlexCollect’ project, which is voluntarily funded by the FPF, Defra, UK Research & Innovation’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) Challenge delivered by Innovate UK, and Zero Waste Scotland. 

The FPF is a collaborative fund established in May 2021 by five founding partners: Mars UK, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever. Partners of the Fund now include Abel & Cole, Ella’s Kitchen, Kiddylicious, Koninklijke Douwe Egberts, KP Snacks, Lotus Bakeries, McCain Foods, Natural Balance Foods, Ocado Retail, pladis, The Collective, and Vitaflo.

FPF FlexCollect project is delivered by a team comprising Ecosurety, RECOUP, SUEZ recycling and recovery UK and WRAP.  

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