September 25, 2017

Recycling #TheCoopWay

443 words, approx. 2 minutes to read.

Lots of food packaging goes unrecycled because it’s not always easy to know if the packaging is recyclable. As a food retailer, we are able to help.

We’ve been working on this for some time and have a goal to make all Co-op food packaging ‘easy to recycle’.

We define ‘easy to recycle’ when the packaging carries these labels:

  • “widely recycled” (your council will collect from your kerbside)
  • “check local recycling” (widely recycled at recycling points, some kerbsides)

We also offer to recycle some other materials, such as polyethene film and carrier bags, in larger Co-op stores.

How we measure if our food packaging is ‘easy to recycle’

We measure how much of our food packaging is ‘easy to recycle’ by the number of individual product lines. For example, Co-op Semi-Skimmed Milk is one product line, Co-op Skimmed Milk is another.

We used to measure by the combined weight of our food product packaging. Previously we reported 85% of (the combined weight of) our food packaging was ‘easy to recycle,’ when in fact 45% of (the individual product lines of) our food packaging was ‘easy to recycle’.

Our goal

100% of our food packaging is ‘easy to recycle’.

Our Co-op Members voted at our AGM in 2017 to commit our Co-op to increasing the percentage of all our Co-op food products with ‘easy to recycle’ packaging from 45% to 80%, by 2020. This is the first step in our overall goal of making 100% of Co-op food packaging ‘easy to recycle’.

To read more on our goal to make it ‘easy to recycle’ all or our Co-op food packaging, see our Tipping Point Report.

How are we doing?

71% of our food packaging is ‘easy to recycle’.

Last reported in April 2018.

We’ve made more of our food packaging ‘easy to recycle’ by changing our:

  • meat product packaging, it’s now made with a single material
  • milk bottle top colours to a lighter shade, this makes them easier to recycle
  • Pizza bases from polystyrene to cardboard
  • Our own-brand straws are not paper not plastic
  • Irresistible tomato packaging from plastic to cardboard
  • recycling labelling to say what most councils say

We also stock compostable carrier bags in selected stores in England and Scotland. They can be used to carry shopping home and then within food waste caddies and bins.

You can read more about how some of our food packaging is keeping food fresher for longer.

What we’re tackling next

We’re always working to make our food packaging easier to recycle. Next, we’re working on:

Iain Ferguson
Environment Manager

Join the conversation! 37 Comments

  1. I was disappointed to see that my local Co-op had replaced paper bags for putting loose bakery goods in, had been changed to plastic bags.

    Why has this been done? Surely this is a backwards step?

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  2. […] We know that the issues of waste, packaging and recyclability are a big concern for our members and customers. Last year Co-op Members voted to make 100% of our packaging easy to recycle. […]

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  3. […] • extended our unique and pioneering Fairtrade policy to include tea, coffee and bananas • helped 14 survivors of modern slavery gain employment at our Co-op through our unique Bright Future programme • continued our work to ensure 100% of the plastic we use is 100% recyclable by 2020, increasing the p… […]

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  4. […] 71% of Co-op branded product packaging is easy to recyclable – we’re aiming for 80% by 2020 […]

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  5. We need to have paper bags to put fruit and veg in. And cotton buds need to have a cardboard middle rather than plastic
    and we don’t want food sold in black plastic containers that cannot be recycled. Mike

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    • HI Michael, we’ve already switched Co-op cotton buds to paper (and the cotton is Fairtrade too!) and we’re working on alternatives for black plastic too, we’ve removed them from tomatoes already. Thanks for the ideas and if you’re a Co-op Member join in via your online Membership account to ensure your voice is heard #TheCoopWay ^Jordan

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  6. Can anybody tell me why its necessary for cucumbers to be wrapped in plastic as they have a skin on them ?? Also please stop selling plastic straws

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    • Perishable goods last longer in packaging, reducing waste. We’re also looking at alternatives to plastic and to reduce packaging overall. Also, our own brand seasonal straws are already paper and have been for a couple of years. We stock a branded plastic straw that will be replaced with a paper version by the end of the year. ^Jordan

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  7. […] of waste, packaging and recyclability are a big concern for our members and customers. Last year Co-op Members voted to make 100% of our packaging easy to recycle. We’re 69% of the way there already and want to increase this to 80% by […]

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  8. […] part of our ambition to ensure that 100% of our packaging is recyclable, with a 80% interim target by 2020, this trial will enable us to see if our members and customers […]

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  9. In our local cooperative there are only plastic straws for sale. Why not stop selling them and only sell your own paper straws.

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  10. Thanks for the feedback, we’re working on this, we know it’s going to take some time. Cheers. ^Scott

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  11. That’s great in switching many products to a plastic alternative however the Turkey mince I purchased was so overpackaged, this could have easily been reduced by 50% like alot of items I see. Please coop try to use as little packaging as possible.

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  12. There are issues with plastic bags inside cardboard (when we used to have waxed paper) e.g cereals and hot drinks e.g. Plastic containers for Ovaltine etc and even where cocoa and hot chocolate are packaged in tins they now all have plastic tops. I suspect this is partly a cheaper option than a tin lid. Little plastic sealing rings around screw top lids for tamper proofing. I have been trying an experiment where I do not buy anything packaged in plastic. It is surprising how little you can buy in any supermarket. I would be proud and pleased to see the Coop lead the market in reducing the use of plastic in packaging. It is helpful for the motivated to have more information on the packaging but it would be even more effective if plastic could be removed from most food packaging in the first place.

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  13. It would be great to see a movement towards reducing packaging completely…how about bulk food aisles in new and refurbished stores? Check this out for inspiration – https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/17/the-plastic-free-stores-showing-the-big-brands-how-to-do-it?CMP=twt_gu

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  14. Please stop selling plastic straws, substitute with paper ones.

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  15. […] so we felt it was imperative that we fix the problem as soon as possible. We’re absolutely committed to reducing plastic in our packaging and want to ensure that tea lovers can enjoy a guilt-free […]

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  16. Why did you stop using bio degradable bags and switch to plastic?.

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  17. Hi Gerald, we are looking at ways to reduce packaging overall. I’ll make sure to feed this back. ^Siobhan

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  18. Hi, like Kathlyn above I also like to buy vegetables loose, but in our store other than carrots, there is no choice, everything else is prepackaged in plastic, I don’t buy the argument that “ is to keep the produce fresher”, the turnover in Woodcote is massive, there 4 or5 deliveries a day, surely loose vegetables would be bought as or indeed more frequently than plastic wrapped ones, and the torn bags just get thrown away and not necessarily recycled. Please bring back loose veges.

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  19. Why are so many fruit and vegetable lines only available prepacked? I always try to buy loose produce to reduce the packaging used. The Coop seems to have reverted to prepacked.

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  20. Thanks for your feedback, Beth, we’ll pass this over to our carrier bag buyer. ^Scott

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  21. I would like to see biodegradable bags used for more things and for the bags that you put loose fruit and veg in. These could then be used to line our recycling food caddies rather than just thrown away.

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  22. Can you tell me why nearly all the co op chickens are sold in foil trays, I’ve stopped buying them . What’s wrong with using an oven dish we can wash and use over again . I feel very angry about this when the co op keep telling us how responsible they are.

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  23. This is excellent news especially regarding using plastic film which is able to be recycled. At the moment you have to rip off the plastic film because it is not presently recyclable before you can recycle the other part of the packaging, this can be a bit of a pain and often puts people off. So well done to all involved at our Co-op.

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  24. Great job Iain and the Coop team!

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  25. I welcome this clarification. Whilst reviewing packaging can you look at ease of opening; in particular meat products and fish. I find it difficult so think of elderly with arthritic joints.

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  26. Well done. As a responsible retailer it’s good we are looking at ways to increase recycling. We all have a responsibility to our children and our planet.

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  27. I have wondered for a long time why supermarkets don’t use paper bags for loose fruit and veg instead of plastic. After all, we’re putting our paper out for recycling,so why not use recycled paper? Also, I have come across ready meals (admittedly expensive) in a kind of box made from thin wood,or card, which cooks fine in the oven. I guess it will come down to cost, but we must try and get less plastic in our rubbish,that’s costing the earth!

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Category

#TheCoopWay, Food #TheCoopWay