The trial scheme sees old shopping bags collected in Southwark and reprocessed by CeDo, a leading plastics manufacturer. The bags are washed and then shredded into small pellets, which are then blown into bubbles of plastic film to form new bags.

So far, the scheme has reprocessed 1,000 tonnes of plastic bags, turning them into 500,000 refuse sacks, which will be redistributed to Southwark residents over the next three months.

Veolia technical director Richard Kirkman said: “This is a great example of how Veolia and the residents of Southwark are contributing to the circular economy and if this trial is successful; we hope to roll this out to other local authorities and Veolia sites.”

Flashing the plastic

Around eight billion plastic bags are disposed of in England every year, creating an enormous environmental challenge. By reusing the material, Veolia claims it is “closing the loop” on a valuable resource.

Southwark Council cabinet member for recycling and environment Darren Merrill said: “Plastic bags are rarely collected by other local authorities so I’m glad to be working with our waste partners, Veolia, to deliver on our commitment to send fewer materials to landfill.”

The UK Government has pledged to tackle the problem of plastic waste by introduce a 5p charge on single use plastic bags as of October 2015, after seeing the success of a similar charge in Scotland and Wales.

Wales saw an 81% decrease in demand for the main material in plastic bags in the two years after introducing a charge.

Brad Allen

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie