Marks & Spencer is to create recycling partnerships with four local authorities as part of its Plan A sustainability initiative.

The partnerships are designed to improve kerbside recycling and collect an extra 60,000 tonnes of recyclable material a year by 2015.

The first tie-up will be with Somerset County Council’s Waste Partnership, into which M&S will inject £1.25m over five years enabling the authority to add plastics and cardboard to the materials it collects from householders.

Three more such partnerships will be formalised this year, including one with Kent Waste Partnership.

M&S head of packaging Dr Helene Roberts said: “This is a pioneering project that we believe will change the face of recycling in the UK.”

Packaging reduction and recycling are part of the retailer’s Plan A objectives and Roberts said the arrangement with local authorities moved the initiative to a new level.

“She said: “We are tackling the problem by providing funding directly to the people that can make a difference – local authorities.

“These partnerships mean that we will get the materials we need to close the recycling loop and deliver a more sustainable future for food packaging.”