Somerset Waste Partnership’s Sort It Plus county-wide kerbside recycling collection system has received a new national accolade as well as up to £1.25 million from retailer Marks & Spencer.
The Resource Revolution “closed loop exemplar” award recognised how Somerset’s councils worked with retailer Marks & Spencer to add household plastic bottles and cardboard to the Sort It Plus kerbside collections and extend the enhanced service through the county.
This is not the first national honour given to Somerset for its pioneering work on recycling. Marks & Spencer and SWP previously won the Best Partnership for Recycling prize at the National Recycling Awards for Sort It Plus.
Funding support from Marks & Spencer has enabled the expansion of Sort It Plus, with thousands of tonnes of card and plastic bottles now being recycled every year instead of ending up in polluting, waste landfill at an annual cost of millions of pounds to council taxpayers.
Sort It Plus kerbside collections have helped boost recycling rates to more than 50%, and M&S packaging suppliers have “closed the loop” by making use of the increased quality and quantity of materials collected in manufacturing their products.
As part of its “Plan A” initiative in environment, ethical trading and health, Marks & Spencer has committed to meet its packaging recovery obligations as the first UK retailer to directly support new kerbside recycling services, with up to £250,000 annually for five years in Somerset.
Sponsored by the Carbon Trust, the Resource Revolution award recognised “a game-changing closed loop initiative … reducing demand for virgin materials”.
And the judges said: “This innovative partnership not only directly promoted the circular economy, but took producer responsibility to a new level. A great new model for co-working.”
SWP managing direct Steve Read said: “As waste materials become resources, smarter ways of working mean that resource management is shifting from a linear to circular economy, with closed loop models powering innovation and radical new business models.
“It is great to have this partnership with Marks & Spence recognised; we look forward to working closely with M&S in future to reduce waste, increase recycling and close the loop so resources are no longer discarded but valued as the starting point for new products and packaging.”
Andrew Speck, Marks & Spencer Commercial and Environmental Packaging Manager, said: “We are pleased to be recognised for the work we have done with Somerset Waste Partnership and our partners in expanding the Sort It Plusrecycling service.
“To deliver such an expansion of services in a cost effective way and then using these materials to make new packaging benefits our UK supply chain and the environment. This trully innovative Plan A partnership shows what positive impact closing the loop can have.”