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Only half a million of the 1.5 million tonnes of recyclable plastic waste created every year in the UK is being reused. It’s shocking that such a small percentage of plastic packaging is being recycled, especially materials that are already easy to recycle like plastic bottles.
We believe part of 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. We’re working hard to engage local authorities and waste management companies to make recycling easier for you.
Co-op Members join in to help reduce plastic waste #TheCoopWay
In 2018 we asked Co-op Members to join in #TheCoopWay by suggesting practical things we can try to reduce waste and improve recycling. We’ve had over 800 ideas directly from our members and our next task is to choose a number of those to pilot. We plan to work with the members who came up with the ideas to help us develop and deliver them.
Our Co-op Members overwhelmingly 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, we’re on track to hit this target. More recently at our AGM in 2018 members supported our commitment that:
We aim to make 100% of our packaging ‘easy to recycle’ by 2023
Easier recycling is part of a coordinated response to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic and other packaging too. Of course, a large part of our response involves the first ‘R’, reduce.
Changing our food packaging
At the prestigious Grocer Gold Awards Grocer Gold we were awarded ‘Green Initiative of the Year’ for the steps we’ve taken to replace unrecyclable packaging with sustainable alternatives.
You might have spotted some of our new packaging innovations in store already. But if not, here are just some of the changes we’ve made in our food stores to reduce the amount of plastic packaging:
- our Co-op Fairtrade 99 Blend Tea will be developed without polypropylene to save 9 tonnes of plastic every year from landfill or being spread on land
- replaced polystyrene with corrugated cardboard pizza discs, preventing 200 tonnes of plastic waste
- switching all Co-op branded water bottles to 50% recycled plastic
- we’re trialling a plastic bottle deposit & return scheme at festivals
- switching our black sushi boxes to clear plastic and black card – all easy to recycle
- changing from black to widely recycled blue plastic for mushroom packaging, and a single plastic material for cooked meat trays
- moved from black plastic to card packaging for tomatoes