Recycling for plastic bags and wrappers could soon come to thousands of Reading homes – with Bracknell and Wokingham to follow – as part of a £200,000 trial scheme.

Rubbish collectors could start picking up “flexible plastics” from 5,000 Reading homes as early as next month. The scheme could then expand to cover some 20,000 homes across Reading, Bracknell Forest and Wokingham Borough a year later.

It comes after Reading was chosen to take part in a national trial, with the government indicating it could make it mandatory for councils to recycle plastic bags and wrappers from 2027.

Under the scheme, people will be able to throw away items including plastic bags, sweet and crisp wrappers, plastic sleeves, bubble wrap, cling film and net bags with their recycling.

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These items will go in blue, single use bags sent out by Reading council and thrown out with the rest of the recycling. Rubbish collectors will then separate the blue recycling bags and send them off to a national processing centre.

But plastic straws and cutlery, pills and tablets blister packs, disposable masks, and foam or polystyrene won’t be included. Plastic bottles and ready meal trays will go with the rest of the recycling as normal.

Council documents say the trial scheme could start as early as July 10, with blue bags and information leaflets sent out "a week or two before."

Bracknell News: What you will be able to recycle in the new recycling collectionsWhat you will be able to recycle in the new recycling collections (Image: Reading Borough Council)

Councillors from Reading, Bracknell Forest and Wokingham Borough councils are likely to formally approve the scheme on Thursday, June 15. The three councils jointly run a waste disposal scheme, known as re3, covering all three boroughs.

The new recycling scheme is part of a national research trial run by the FlexCollect project, which is backed by the government. The project asked re3 to be part of the trial because of Reading’s urban nature.

It will come with £200,000 worth of funding to cover the costs of implementing the scheme. And documents say taking part in the trial could give the three councils a head start in preparing for government plans to make it mandatory for all local authorities to recycle flexible plastics.

Re3 is not currently prepared to process flexible plastics itself. It says converting its recycling plants could cost “upwards of £2 million.”

The documents also say officers have secured assurances that FlexCollect won’t profit or gain a commercial advantage over competitors through running the trial research.