Co-op trial 'UK-first' recycling scheme in Somerset village

Pilton in Somerset has been focus of a UK-first recycling experiment, led by the Co-operative.

The village is best known as the home of Glastonbury Festival, but it is now setting a new trend for recycling soft plastics.

Soft plastics are anything you can scrunch - like crisp packets or yoghurt pot lids. While many people recycle cardboard, glass, plastics and food waste, councils do not currently provide recycling facilities for soft plastics.

The Co-op decided to partner with the village - which has a close-knit community of 1,000 people - to pilot a scheme and six weeks ago the village store installed a 'soft plastics' bin and encouraged residents to start recycling.

So far, 40 bags of 'soft plastics' have been collected and will now be recycled. Credit: ITV West Country

Harriet Coles, who is the team leader at the Co-op in Pilton, said most soft plastics get thrown away and end up in landfills and so this scheme hopes to put an end to that.

She said: "It is Europe's most extensive in-store recycling scheme which allows all soft plastics to be recycled into different materials, such as hard plastic buckets and different materials in the construction industry.

Pilton Co-op team leader, Harriet Coles, says the scheme has gone 'extremely well'. Credit: ITV West Country

"Because Pilton has such a great community spirit, we really wanted to get involved with it and step into the community."

On 4 September, Co-op representatives joined the Pilton Show and Picnic to spread to message.

The show's organiser, Jenny de Gex, said: "The atmosphere on the field of everybody that day was very positive. Somebody said to me, 'Well I hardly put much in the dustbin now as it all seems to go to the curb-side recycling or the soft plastics bin.' It's a great initiative."

The Pilton Show and Picnic took place on 4 September. Credit: Halpern / Co-operative

Gillian Steele, who runs the Pilton Community Coffee Shop, said community effort has made the scheme a success. So far, 40 bags of 'soft plastics' have been collected.

She added: "We were actually thrilled to be involved with it. It was good fun and it's been educating us all on the things that actually are soft plastics.

"We thought it was fantastic that you could just have a bag, fill it with plastic and go down to the local Co-op."

Gillian Steele, who runs the community coffee shop, was 'delighted' to get involved with the scheme. Credit: ITV West Country

According to an informal survey run by the Co-op, 80% of people in Pilton said they were motivated to recycle soft plastics - with 75% of people saying they were likely to continue taking their soft plastics back into store.

The Co-op says due to the success of the scheme in Pilton, it will now be rolled out in 2,300 stores by November.