Pets at Home launches packaging recycling scheme as Wilko extends face mask collections

Pictured: The in-store collection boxes at Pets at Home (left) and Wilko (right)

The Pets at Home scheme has seen take-back points installed in 40 stores, as well as three Vets4Pets practices. Customers will be encouraged to deposit flexible pet food packaging, including small pouches from wet food and larger bags for dry food.

Once the packaging is collected, it will be processed by recycling firm Enval. The firm claims it has developed a system capable of processing problem plastics; flexible pet food packaging is not collected from homes by 84% of UK local authorities as it is often multi-layer and lightweight, making it difficult to process mechanically, with the cost of the process often outweighing the value of the material produced.

Enval’s system involves microwave heating the packaging up to 600C to separate the aluminium and plastics layers. Plastics are separated as oils and gases; the oils are ready for reuse in new packaging while the gases are used to generate the electricity used to run the machinery.

As well as Enval, Pets at Home is working with environmental charity Hubbub and pet food producers Mars and Nestle-owned Purina PetCare to run the trials. Mars notably launched its own pet food recycling scheme in 2018, in partnership with TerraCycle, and has since begun offering refillable pet food to UK customers for the first time in partnership with Asda.

Hubbub’s creative partner Jack Hodgkiss said: “This trial marks a significant stepping stone towards tackling the issues associated with plastic packaging. Around 44% of UK households have pets and most of them don’t have access to flexible plastic recycling through their local council. We are thrilled to be partnering with Pets at Home to make flexible plastic recycling possible for many of the UK’s pet owners.”

The Pets at Home stores which will have take-back points are Aberdeen, Arnold, Bangor North West, Birstall, Bradford, Brislington, Bristol Bradley Stoke, Bristol Eastgate, Bristol Flinton, Burton-upon-Trent, Cardiff, Cardiff Newport Road, Chester Caldy, Corstorphine, Darlington, Dewsbury, Doncaster, Fareham, Halifax, Hereford, Huddersfield, Kirkcaldy, Leicester Fosse Park, Lincoln, Livingston, Netherfield, Nottingham, Rotherham, Sheffield, Solihull, St Austell, Stafford, Swansea, Swindon, Tamworth, Wakefield, Weston-Super-Mare, Wigan, Yeovil and York. The participating Vets4Pets practices are Doncaster, Hucknall and Huddersfield. 

A representative for Pets at Home told edie that the retailer is hoping to extend the scheme to all of its stores by the end of 2022 if the trials prove successful. 

The UK Government is planning to introduce a unified recycling collection system for all local authorities, through the Resources and Waste Strategy. However, consultations on the strategy, which was first unveiled in 2018, had delayed start dates due to Covid-19.

In the meantime, Pets at Home is one of several UK retailers offering an in-store take-back offering for flexible plastics. July saw Co-op rolling out its offering to 1,500 stores, following successful trials in 2020. Before that, Sainsbury’s had published plans to introduce in-store recycling systems for flexible plastics packaging across all stores nationwide, following successful trials in the North East of England earlier this year. Similarly, Tesco is adding flexible plastic recycling points to 171 large stores across Wales and the South West of England, while Aldi UK is adding them to 20 stores in the first instance.


In related news, home and garden retailer Wilko has confirmed that its recycling scheme for single-use face masks has been extended until the end of September. Wilko estimates that it will have collected 400,000 masks by this point. While disposable masks may look like they are made solely of fabric or paper, they contain polypropylene plastic.

The scheme covers 150 stores and was first launched in March with an initial duration of three months. It is being operated in partnership with recycling firm ReWorked, creative agency Metrisk and technology provider Scan2Recycle. Collected masks are subjected to a 72-hour quarantine and are then processed by ReWorked. The process involves washing and mechanically shredding, resulting in a material that can be mixed with other recycled plastics to produce rigid products such as furniture.

Wilko’s chief executive Jerome Saint-Marc said: “We know that our customers care about the environment and this scheme has proved again to us just how much. We’re so delighted that it’s been this much of a success and that our customers and team members are helping to reduce litter in their communities, our partners are helping to recycle the waste and that we’re able to bring it all together in our stores.”

Sarah George

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