CO-OP has launched Europe’s most extensive in-store recycling scheme for plastic bags and product wrapping.

Recycling units for “soft” plastics will be available for use from this month. The initiative establishes an accessible disposal route for materials which are unlikely to be collected by UK councils, including crisp packets, bread bags, single-use carrier bags and bags-for-life, lids from ready meals and yoghurt pots, biscuit wrappers and pet-food pouches.

The scheme also sees the convenience retailer become first UK supermarket to have fully recyclable food packaging by the end of this month. These in-store units also accept packaging for food products purchased in other retailers along with Co-op’s own easy-to-recycle food packaging. The retailer estimates that 300 tonnes of plastic bags and food wrapping could be collected per year once the bins are fully in place.

The roll-out follows a successful trial last year which found that 86 per cent of shoppers were likely to use the service. Concerned communities can also be reassured that the plastics collected will be recycled in the UK.

The recyclable material is turned into post-consumer plastic granules which are then made into useful secondary products including bin liners and buckets, and material for the construction industry - rather than flooding land-fill sites, going to incineration or, being shipped overseas.

Co-op Food CEO Jo Whitfield, said: “By offering a simple and convenient solution to an everyday issue, we believe we can help communities to make small changes that together will add up to a big difference for our environment.”