Dixons Carphone launches nationwide polystyrene takeback scheme

Electrical and telecommunications retailer Dixons Carphone has unveiled fresh new commitments to embrace the circular economy, including making all its own-label products packaging reusable or recyclable by 2023 and introducing a nationwide rollout of an in-store takeback scheme for polystyrene.

Dixons Carphone launches nationwide polystyrene takeback scheme

The new scheme is based on a successful trial at 14 stores over a six-week period this summer

Dixons Carphone, which owns brands such as Currys and PC World, has pledged to make all of its own-label products reusable or recyclable by 2023. The company will work with select suppliers to develop alternatives to packaging without plastics or expanded polystyrene (EPS).

The retailer is currently trialling cardboard as an alternative to EPS for large domestic appliances such as TVs. EPS is difficult to dispose of at home due to its volume and is very rarely recycled by local authorities with most being incinerated or ending up in landfill.

Additionally, Dixons Carphone has launched a new in-store takeback scheme for EPS. The new scheme is based on a successful trial at 14 stores over a six-week period this summer. The nationwide rollout will only accept EPS associated with TV packaging, but the company is aiming to collect different types of EPS packaging as more consumers use the system.

Dixons Carphone’s senior sustainability, operations and compliance manager Chris Brown said: “We’re proud to be the first retailer to enable customers to drop off their TV packaging in stores for recycling. Now customers can have their polystyrene taken away at delivery or drop it off at one of our stores.

“Whatever they choose we’ll take it off their hands and ensure we reuse or recycle it in a responsible way – helping customers do their bit for the planet.”

The retailer currently recycles more than a tenth of all consumer product packing polystyrene in the UK and works with third-party organisations to turn the material into insulation panels for housing.

In the last year alone, the company has removed 1.7 million items of plastic packaging from its brands – equating to 27 tonnes. Since the start of 2019, the company has removed almost three million pieces of packaging.

Dixons Carphone has also created and published its Product Packaging Guidance to share best practice with the wider industry. The guide outlines preferred materials for use for both retailers and other suppliers. It has been compiled using data from WRAP, the British Plastics Confederation, Government Recycling regulations and the UK Plastic Pact.

Net-zero business

The initiative also reduces the company’s carbon footprint by extending the life of the material and reducing the use of virgin materials.

The retailer has made an overarching commitment to become a net-zero business by 2040, as part of the British Retail Consortium’s Climate Action Roadmap. More than 60 big-name brands are supporting the collective transition to net-zero ahead of the UK Government’s national deadline in total.

As is the case for many businesses in this sector, Dixons Carphone’s supply chain accounts for a large proportion of its overall carbon footprint. To that end, the company has announced plans to work with consultancy EcoVadis to help suppliers measure, disclose and reduce their emissions.

EcoVadis is supplying Dixons Carphone with a technology called the ‘Carbon Action Module’, which will help it collect critical emissions data from suppliers in a unified format and to digitally analyse the figures. The analysis will help the retailer benchmark emissions and develop plans to help suppliers reduce them, with a priority focus on suppliers that are either high-emitting by nature or higher-emitting compared to the average in their space.

Dixons Carphone works with around 10,000 suppliers globally and is including Scope 3 (indirect) emissions in accounting towards its net-zero target. Aside from driving progress internally, the business believes this move will be an engagement point with consumers.

Elsewhere in its plans for delivering net-zero, Dixons Carphone has joined The Climate Group’s EV100 initiative, pledging to switch its commercial fleet to electric and alternative fuel vehicles by 2030 and to transition more than half of its medium-duty vehicles. It has also set science-based targets to halve absolute emissions by the financial year 2029-2030, against a 2019-2020 financial year baseline. Scope 1 (direct), Scope 2 (power-related) and some Scope 3 (indirect) emissions are covered by the commitment.

Matt Mace

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