A LEADING North East shopping centre is encouraging visitors to take advantage of in-store schemes to help reduce their ecological footprint.

Sunderland’s the Bridges is committed to limiting its environmental impact – recycling 98 per cent of its waste locally, only using bio-degradable cleaning products and cutting its electricity usage in half by installing LED lighting.

And ahead of the 17th annual Recycle Week, which takes place from 21 to 27 September, the centre has highlighted a number of its retailers’ campaigns which help their customers make eco-friendly choices.

Sell old phones to O2

Since O2 Recycle launched in 2009, it has recycled more than 2.9 million devices, saving over 280 tonnes of materials ending up in landfill.

While O2 pays out for phones in good condition, they also accept broken phones and there’s no requirement to be an O2 customer to take advantage of the scheme.

Recycle old batteries at Tesco

More than 20,000 tonnes of batteries are sent to landfill sites in the UK each year, but Tesco is helping to reduce this number by offering battery-recycling points at Express, Metro, Superstore and Extra stores.

They accept all household batteries, including AAA, AA, C, D, 9 volt, button and those found in appliances such as mobile phones, laptops, hearing aids, watches, cameras, cordless power tools, electric toothbrushes, razors, toys, burglar alarms and hand-held vacuum cleaners.

Reduce plastic waste with Lush

Along with selling a number of plastic-free products such as solid shampoo and deodorant bars and pressed conditioners, shoppers can return black and clear Lush pots to store to be recycled, with a free face mask for every five they bring back.

Return plastic bottles to The Body Shop

The Body Shop asks customers to return clean, dry bottles or tubs to its in-store recycling boxes with a member of staff present.

Those signed up to the Love Your BodyTM Club will receive a stamp for every one returned – with a reward for the fifth.

Save money on a morning coffee

Many single-use coffee cups contain a film of polyethylene which means only three centres in the UK can recycle them, with studies suggesting 2.5 billion of them are thrown away each year.

Reusable coffee cups are gaining in popularity and some retailers offer a discount for using them. Customers can enjoy 25p off at Costa Coffee and Starbucks, 20p off at Greggs and double rewards at Caffè Nero.

Get money back at H&M

H&M offers a garment recycling programme to prevent customers’ unwanted clothes going to landfill.

Shoppers can bring a bag of clothes – from any brand and in any condition – to a till point to receive a £5 voucher, which can then be used for the purchase of £25 or more in-store or online.

Support UNICEF with Primark

Primark is another high street retailer who has recently announced a nationwide recycling programme – taking clothes, footwear and bags from any brand.

Collection boxes will be available in stores across the UK and donated items will be reused, recycled or repurposed, with nothing going to landfill and profits from the scheme going to UNICEF – to support education programmes for vulnerable children around the world.

Get a free lipstick by returning empty MAC products to Debenhams

Rather than throwing away old makeup, MAC operates a scheme where its customers can return six empty products in-store to be recycled – and receive a free lipstick worth around £17.50.

Get a discount with old perfume bottles

The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle is enough to power a light bulb for four hours.

The Perfume Shop is helping to achieve these results by inviting shoppers to return old fragrance bottles to its stores, where they can enjoy 10% off a new scent if they decide to purchase in-store on the same day.

Take old glasses to Vision Express

Glasses can be recycled at home by taking them apart and separating the different materials, but there are also lots of charities, such as Vision Aid Overseas, which take in old glasses so they can be reused by someone in a developing country.

Shoppers can drop old glasses at any Vision Express store, to be put to use again by someone who needs them.

The theme of this year’s Recycle Week is Together – We Recycle, celebrating the efforts of all of the recycling and waste workers who have kept going through a challenging year.

Duncan Allen, Building and Services Director at the Bridges, hopes the initiative will encourage more shoppers to explore the different options throughout the centre.

“We’re always looking at ways to be more environmentally-friendly at the Bridges and it’s great news that so many of our brands take their responsibility seriously too,” said Duncan.

“We’re delighted that so many shops take back their old products to be repurposed and it’s even better that so many of them offer an incentive for doing so.

“Recycle Week is all about spreading awareness and hopefully these campaigns will give our visitors even more ideas for how to limit their impact on the environment.”