Marks & Spencer has launched a new “plastic take-back scheme” which it says will prevent non-recyclable items being taken to landfill.

MS plastic take-back initiative

M&S will roll out the initiative nationally later this year

The initiative will allow M&S customers to return a number of plastic products that local councils are currently unable to recycle properly to special in-store bins. 

The scheme has been initially launched in food and beauty halls at M&S stores in Tolworth, Cribbs Causeway, Westfield Stratford, Waterside, Loughton, Bluewater, Fosse Park and Peterborough.

M&S has pledged to roll out the scheme nationwide by the end of 2019. It said the bins will go on to be made from the recycled plastic collected from the first eight stores.

The non-recyclable items M&S will be collecting include black ready-meal trays, crisp packets, sauce sachets and cosmetic containers. After being returned to M&S stores, the materials will be turned into “store fittings, furniture and playground equipment for schools”.

M&S’ senior packaging technologist, Laura Fernandez, said: “As a business, we’re committed to reducing the amount of plastic we use, and we have already started phasing out non-recyclable packaging from our products.

“Customers often don’t know how best to recycle certain types of plastic or where it goes after being collected by local councils. We’re on a mission to provide a greater awareness of landfill avoidance and plastic recyclability, while ultimately helping our customers to give plastic a new purpose and support a truly circular economy.”

The scheme is being expanded following a three-month trial at M&S’ store in Tolworth, Southwest London – the same shop that is piloting more than 90 plastic-free produce lines.

M&S wants all of its packaging to be “widely recycled” by 2022 and aims to become a zero-waste business by 2025