This week we launched our latest convenience report which looks at recycling, an issue that’s close to our members’ heart.
It sets out our ambition to have 80% of our packaging recyclable by 2020 and we call on other retailer to follow our lead on developing new packaging and working with local authorities to improve recycling levels.
Two thirds of all plastic packaging used for consumer products in the UK is being sent to landfill or incineration with only one third being recycled, according to the figures.
Only half a million of the 1.5 million tonnes of recyclable plastic waste created every year is being reused as intended. The problem lies with a lack of knowledge about which packaging can be recycled along with local authorities lacking the facilities to deal with it.
“Recycling has been important to the Co-op for many years, starting with our scheme to recycle office paper in to own-brand kitchen towels in 2001, and more recently plastic collected from our stores is recycled in to our new bags for life.” Michael Fletcher Commercial Director, The Co-op
Iain Ferguson, Co-op environment manager, said: “It is shocking that such a small percentage of plastic packaging is being recycled, especially materials that are already easy to recycle like plastic bottles. We are concerned that so much still goes to landfill every year.
“We need to stop thinking about this plastic as a waste and start to use it as a resource. What is needed is a co-ordinated response to the problem. This should start with retailers and majors brand listening to recyclers and developing packaging that is better for recycling.
“Our long term ambition is for ALL packaging to be be recycled where it can be, and we are making a bold start by setting a target that, by 2020, 80% of our products will have packaging that is easy to recycle.”Steve Murrells Retail Chief Executive, The Co-op
Having already re-designed and simplified plastic packaging to make it easier for consumers to recycle, we’re also working with local authorities to share best practice. The Plastics Industry Recycling Action Plan (PIRAP) is an ideal forum for this work, and we’re urging other retailers to follow our lead in signing up to support this initiative.
We’ve also called for the introduction of clear labelling to differentiate items that recyclers can’t use to make it easier for consumers and recyclers.