Co-op bans single-use plastic carrier bags and introduces compostable alternatives

The Co-op has announced an end to single-use plastic carrier bags in its stores by 2023.

The supermarket chain has pledged to remove around 60 million such bags in a phased rollout and replace them with an environmentally-friendly alternative. The new lightweight compostable carrier bags (pictured) will be carriers of the same size and strength. Retailing at 5p, they can be used to carry shopping home and then be reused as food waste caddy liners,

The new bags will be introduced to almost 1,400 Co-op food stores, initially in towns, cities and villages where compostable carriers are accepted in food waste collections. Co-op will be speaking with the remaining local councils to seek to extend coverage to more stores.

The move is part of a new ethical strategy due to be launched by the Co-op tomorrow (Thursday September 27). ‘The Future of Food’ report will set out Co-op’s vision to tackle a range of topics including food waste, Fairtrade and energy. It has been developed to meet the UN’s sustainable development goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all by 2030.

The blueprint sets out how the Co-op will ban single-use own-brand plastic products and reduce its overall use of plastic packaging within five years. It has promised to use a minimum of 50% recycled plastic in bottles, pots, trays and punnets by 2021. All own-brand black and dark plastic packaging, including black ready meal trays, will be eliminated by 2020.

Co-op Retail chief executive Jo Whitfield said: “The Co-op will phase out any packaging which cannot be reused. The first step to remove single-use plastic will be to launch compostable carrier bags in our stores. They are a simple but ingenious way to provide an environmentally-friendly alternative to plastic shopping bags.”

She added: “Our ban on single-use plastic is central to our new ethical blueprint. The Co-op was founded on righting wrongs, and we first campaigned to stop food fraud. Now we face huge global challenges and have created a recipe for sustainability to source responsibly, treat people with fairness and produce products which have minimal impact on the planet.”


The new compostable carrier bag

PHOTO:  Neil O’Connor

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