Aggregate Bags WRAP Supply Chain Trial

Advancing aggregate packaging

WRAP’s innovative supply chain trials work with businesses in Wales to increase the use of recycled material in products and ensure these products can be recycled.

Funded by Welsh Government, WRAP and multiple supply chain project partners aim to drive market confidence in using post-consumer recycled materials in products already on the market by demonstrating the economic and environmental benefits of doing so.

Advancing aggregate packaging

This supply chain trial delivered with lead project partner Resilience Sustainable Solutions (RSS), a Wales-based consultancy who help organisations develop and embed sustainability solutions, in partnership with Tarmac, Berry BPI Global, Cardiff University and GEA is investigating the feasibility of collecting aggregate waste bags and turning these into new packaging materials for sand and gravel. The trial will aim to establish a closed-loop recycling model for waste aggregate bags. 

Exciting sustainability initiatives unveiled: March 2024 update

Manufacturing breakthrough: Bags with increased recycled content

Project partners Berry BPI have manufactured plastic sheet, using recycled material, to be converted into bags at Tarmac’s filling and packing plant. Crucially, this plastic packaging is non-clear, moving away from the industry norm for clear bags for all aggregate products including sand and decorative aggregates.  

Clean, clear recycled plastic is in high demand and low supply, making it more expensive compared to non-clear, jazz plastic. This is due to clear plastic needing to undergo more extensive colour sorting and separation to maintain quality. Choosing jazz plastic pellets over clear ones offers a cost-effective and more readily obtainable alternative. Jazz plastic traditionally has limited applications, however our initiative hopes to develop a new market for the material

This shift unlocks broader possibilities for recycled content. For the manufacturing trial, Berry provided their jazz recycled pellets, composed mainly of post-consumer waste, notably pallet wrap with some ink contamination.

The plastic sheet was successfully manufactured with 60%, 80%, and 90% recycled content, far exceeding the current 50% level in Tarmac’s bags, marking a pivotal step towards sustainability in their production processes.

Packing and filling trials triumph

Following the successful manufacturing phase, the plastic sheet arrived at Tarmac's plant in Cheshire in October 2023, to be filled with the aggregate and sealed. Rigorous trials were carried out, evaluating sealing temperatures, seal quality, and fill consistency for sand and 'MOT' coarse material.

While challenges with 'eye mark' definition were noted, sealing remained satisfactory across all recycled material trials even at 90% recycled content. Winter performance monitoring of the bags is underway, to ensure performance is maintained through storage and handling. Due to the success of the performance of the 90% bags, the trial will now confidently focus solely on addressing challenges observed with these 90% recycled content bags.

Pioneering a collection scheme with B&Q

WRAP Cymru is thrilled to be working with B&Q for an instore collection scheme for aggregate bags, increasing the opportunity for plastic recycling. This initiative launched in January 2024 across select South Wales stores and explores the consumer acceptance of non-clear bags for aggregates rather than the traditional clear bags.

Beyond promoting sustainability, this also aligns with Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) obligations. Our focus on behaviour change leverages insights from previous WRAP reports on flexible plastic collection schemes, to develop this area of the trial.

Stay tuned for further updates on our journey toward a more sustainable future.