British organisation RECOUP has announced the addition of the county of Somerset and the city of Newcastle to a flexible plastic collection programme called FlexCollect, an initiative managed by the Flexible Plastic Fund (FPF).

Under this pilot effort, flexible plastic waste such as wrappers, plastic bags, packets and films from more than 3,600 homes in Somerset and over 5,000 homes in Newcastle is expected to be collected for recycling.

The programme will gradually expand to cover more residents across the two cities over the next two years.

The project was first launched in Somerset on 22 May, providing a weekly segregated collection for residents.

In Newcastle the effort includes a twin stream collection – one stream for glass and the other for plastic, which was introduced on 5 June.

Residents across both areas receive a blue collection bag for collecting their flexible plastic waste, which is then placed in dedicated recycling containers to be assimilated at the nearest recycling facility.

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Insights from this pilot project will be used for informing industry partners and local authorities before the potential launch of mandatory UK-wide kerbside collections, expected to start in 2027.

FPF FlexCollect spokesperson and Ecosurety discovery manager Gareth Morton said: “We are pleased to see the FPF FlexCollect project building steadily, with now five local authorities on board to help us gain valuable insights into how to successfully collect and recycle post-consumer flexible plastics from households.

“We are looking forward to share openly our initial learnings at the end of this year so the UK can prepare for widespread collections by 2027.”

The FlexCollect programme is worth £3m and was launched in May last year. It is co-managed by a consortium of the project’s co-sponsors, including RECOUP, Ecosurety, WRAP, SUEZ recycling, and recovery UK.

Somerset’s council and Newcastle’s city council have now become the latest authorities in the UK to join this household collection and recycling initiative.

Other local authorities that are already a part of this programme are the South Gloucestershire, Cheltenham and Maldon councils.

Four more local bodies in the UK are expected to join the programme later this year.