Tesco has announced the rollout of  “soft plastic” recycling points to 171 stores.

The new recycling points will allow customers to recycle old packaging, including bread bags, pet food pouches and crisp packets.

Britain's biggest grocer plans to launch the project nationwide but for now, only stores in the south west of England are affected.

Tesco said it will mark the UK's first network of collection points of this size to help tackle plastic waste.

Most councils don't collect soft plastic from homes for recycling and it often ends up on landfill sites.

How does it work?

Once collected, the soft plastic packaging brought back by customers is then sent for recycling.

The items will be washed, sorted and processed before being turned into new packaging for food, household and beauty products.

The supermarket said the trial has seen customers return more than 10 times the expected amount of plastic, with bread bags, fruit and vegetable packaging, crisp packets, salad bags, baby and pet food pouches topping the list of items returned.

Material that has already been collected has since been used to produce food grade packaging for a selection of Tesco cheese.

Recycling 1,000 tonnes per year

Glasgow Times: A Tesco "soft plastic" recycling point. (Tesco/PA)A Tesco "soft plastic" recycling point. (Tesco/PA)

Tesco has said the move would provide the UK’s biggest network of recycling points for soft plastic, which is not commonly recycled by councils in kerbside collections and often ends up in the bin.

It expects to collect and recycle 1,000 tonnes of plastic a year through the scheme, with consumers allowed to return all their soft plastic, regardless of where they bought it.

Tesco’s director of quality, Sarah Bradbury, said: “It is an absolute priority to remove and reduce as much plastic as possible and ensure everything we use is recycled and kept out of the environment.

“Where plastic serves an important purpose such as reducing food waste, these new recycling points make sure that every piece can be easily recycled.

“Trials have shown they are popular with customers, so we believe rolling them out at scale will have a real impact.”

The move has been welcomed by environmental charity WWF, whose sustainable materials specialist Paula Chin said: “Plastic pollution is one of the most visible symptoms of the environmental crisis and is devastating our natural world.

“Businesses, governments and households have all got an important part to play in tackling the issue, so it’s encouraging to see Tesco extending their successful soft plastics collection trial across more of their stores, giving their customers even more opportunity to recycle these valuable materials.”