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Across the industry, packaging plays an important role in preserving products and preventing food waste, however we’re aware of the challenges, particularly with plastic, and we’re working hard to reduce the amount we use. Where this isn’t possible, we want to enable and encourage our customers and colleagues to recycle and reuse the packaging they take home so we can create lasting change for the future. 

Our customers have told us that they’re confused about what can and can’t be recycled and as a major retailer, we’re committed to helping them make a difference by putting recycling into their own hands.  With 40 different council rules it’s important that the public have access to the right up to date information for their local area. 

That’s why, we’re supporting Recycle Week, a brilliant annual campaign led by Recycle Now, which encourages everyone to recycle more by highlighting the benefits and offering tips and suggestions to make it easier to recycle. 

When it comes to how we’re playing our part at M&S, we want to support customers to make a difference and that’s why, our simple goal is to remove difficult to recycle packaging like black plastic by 2022. We’ve already removed 1,700 tonnes of black plastic packaging from products like our Mini Bites tubs and fruit and veg and we’ve started replacing our ready meal trays with easily recycled coloured alternatives starting in our Italian range. We’ll completely remove black plastic packaging by the end of 2020. 

As we work towards our 2022 goal and find solutions for difficult to recycle materials like plastic films, we want to enable our customers to dispose of the packaging they use and get into the habit of recycling. As a result, we’ve launched our plastic take-back scheme to 12 of our stores, enabling customers to bring back any hard to recycle plastic such as black plastic, films and foils from any retailer. We’re turning collected plastic into playground equipment, giving it a completely new life and preventing it from going to landfill. The scheme is already proving extremely popular with our customers and our plan is to roll it out to more of our stores this year.

What’s more, we’re keen to encourage behaviour change when it comes to reusing containers. That’s why, we’re incentivising customers by offering a 25p discount off hot drinks for those who bring in their own reusable coffee cups and we’ve recently become the first major retailer to extend this to hot food to go at our Market Place counters. While in our clothing business, we’re enabling customers to reuse their hangers through our hanger reuse scheme. We’ve diverted over one billion hangers from landfill to date by reusing or recycling them, even if they’re broken. 

At the same time, we’re working with the wider industry and organisations to support the government’s proposed changes to the current recycling infrastructure to ensure consistency across the UK. This means that eventually, more packaging can be recovered and reprocessed domestically here in the UK and given a second life. 

This Recycle Week, we’re encouraging our colleagues to read up on recycling options in their local area. We’re challenging them to adopt one new recycling habit for good and help customers to do the same too. Let’s all take recycling into our own hands and make recycling the new norm.