Pets at Home is introducing dedicated recycling points for flexible pet food packaging across 40 of its stores.

The new initiative, which is being supported by brand owners Mars and Nestle, and project coordinator Hubbub, aims to combat flexible packaging waste in the sector.

Following the trial, this initiative is scheduled to be rolled out across the UK, with the aim of having recycling points in the majority of Pets at Home stores by the end of next year.

Working with specialist recycler Enval, which claims to have developed a microwave-induced pyrolysis process that can recycle and recover flexible, rigid and complex plastics, Pets at Home and its partners say that they are establishing the first store take-back and recycling scheme specifically for pet food packaging.

Enval’s process involves heating the packaging up to 600C to separate the aluminium and plastics layers. The aluminium is recovered, cleaned and made ready for recycling, while the plastic is converted into oils and gases.

The oils can then reportedly be reused for other products, with Enval now working with several plastics producers who are aiming to use them as feedstock for new plastic, with the ambition of achieving full circularity.

The gases are used in a conventional gas generator to produce the electricity to run the microwaves, thereby making the process self-sustaining.

Louise Stonier, chief people and culture officer at Pets at Home, comments: "We are really excited to be able to offer this recycling service, as we know it is important to make it convenient for our customers to return their used packaging when they come to our pet care centres. This is all part of our ‘Better World Pledge’ to create a better world for pets and the people who love them."

Alison Bramfitt, group packaging manager for Purina, added: “Purina’s vision is that none of our packaging ends up in landfill or as litter, we are committed to working towards a waste-free future. Currently, in the UK only 16% of councils collect flexible plastic. 

“Collaborating with Pets at Home and Mars allows us to provide our consumers with further recycling options and increases the total amount of flexible plastic that is currently collected and recycled.  We also continue to work on innovative solutions that will make our packaging easier to recycle.”