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United Biscuits in McVitie’s wrapper recycling scheme to plug council collection gap

By Oliver Nieburg , 19-Jun-2012
Last updated on 19-Jun-2012 at 13:50 GMT

McVitie's recycling scheme

United Biscuits (UB) has partnered with recycling firm TerraCycle UK to introduce a scheme allowing consumers to post used biscuit wrappers to be recycled into every day goods such as waste bins and watering cans.

The company said that although the plastic film used to wrap biscuits is recyclable, much of this packaging went to landfill as UK local councils currently carry out few kerbside mixed plastic recycling services.

Councils lack infrastructure for biscuit wrapper recycling

Speaking to BakeryandSnacks.com, Stephen Clarke, public relations manager at TerraCycle said of council collection services: “Anything that is mixed plastics they just don’t have the infrastructure.”

He said that it was difficult and costly for councils to separate such materials, leading manufacturers to look for other solutions.

United Biscuits therefore teamed up with TerraCycle to reduce waste sent to landfill.

In the last year, 487,000 tonnes of biscuits worth £2.3bn were sold in the UK, according to data from Nielsen. Most of the wrapping goes to landfill.

The McVitie’s Biscuit Wrapper Brigade

The McVitie’s Biscuit Wrapper Brigade allows UK consumers to obtain pre-paid Royal Mail postal labels from TerraCycle’s website and send a box of used McVitie’s wrappers to TerraCycle. UB is covering the cost of the postage.

The recycling firm then grinds down the waste material and sells it on to manufacturers of everyday goods such as garden benches and waste bins.

Clarke said that his company was encouraging consumers to send a minimum of 100 used wrappers to reduce their carbon footprint, but TerraCycle would accept smaller quantities. The recycling group also makes collections at schools and community groups.

Consumers can obtain two ‘TerraCycle points’ for each wrapper, which can be redeemed for a two pence contribution to a charity of their choice.

Extended crisps deal?

The TerraCycle logo will also appear on McVitie’s packs to encourage uptake of the programme.

Clarke said that consumers could send any non-savoury biscuit wrapper to TerraCycle even if it was not a UB brand. UB will still cover postage costs to recycle competitor product wrappers.

TerraCycle has recycling initiatives with other leading food companies, including Kraft Foods for two of its coffee brands and Danone for its Activia yoghurt pots.

Clarke said that TerraCycle was also keen in future to receive crisp packets, although it does not currently accept such packaging from consumers.

UB also manufactures a number of crisp brands including Hula Hoops, Twiglets and McCoy’s.

Vicki Gregory, marketing controller for McVitie's, told this site: "We have tried it first on UB's largest largest brand to drive mass awareness and as people have been telling us for a while that they want to be able to recycle their biscuit wrappers. We'll  see how it goes, and may consider extending the reach to cover some of our other brands in future."

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