M&S partners with Polytag for packaging recycling in UK

Program will use UV tag detection in recycling centers with M&S gaining insights on its single-use plastic packaging collection and sorting.

Recycling technology firm, Polytag, has named UK retailer, M&S, as a founding member of its Polytag Ecotrace Programme an initiative set to optimize the tracing and recycling of single-use plastic packaging in the UK. 

The Polytag Ecotrace Programme will deploy a wide network of Polytag’s invisible UV tag detection equipment in strategically chosen recycling centers that handle high volumes of waste. FMCG brands, retailers, and waste management businesses are invited to get involved in the program to unlock granular data on over 50 percent of the UK’s household waste recycling stream. 

As a founding member of the program, M&S, will gain real-time insights into where, when, and how much of its single-use plastic packaging is collected and sorted at recycling centers across the UK. This never-before-seen data – at barcode level – will provide a verified benchmark for understanding recycling rates of its used plastic packaging. 

As recycled PET plastic materials sustain high demand from FMCG brand owners, Polytag’s invisible UV tags are easily printed onto labels at production. Once the packaging item enters the recycling stream at a recycling center, a Polytag UV tag reader identifies the invisible UV tag. Detecting materials allows for accurate sorting and cleaner feedstock for UK-sourced recycled PET packaging materials. 

The industry is called to join the Polytag Ecotrace Programme, in which members will support the deployment of a nationwide Invisible UV Tag Reader network and get a subscription to the Polytag dashboard. The online hub displays live lifecycle data on a brand’s plastic packaging materials as they enter the recycling stream, from consumer to recovery. 

Commenting on the Polytag Ecotrace Programme, Alice Rackley, CEO of Polytag, said: ‘Currently, FMCG brands have no visibility of what happens to its single-use plastic once it has been put in the bin. As Extended Producer Responsibility legislation comes into force, brands will need to take responsibility for packaging materials. 

‘Not only does our Ecotrace Programme aim to solve this problem by bringing together leading players across the UK to capture barcode-level information on single-use plastic, but it stands as an example of what passion and collaboration paired with tangible action can do. We would like to thank M&S for being the first partner to join our new initiative. Other businesses that are interested in joining the program should get in touch and become part of this story, which is set to shake up the industry.’