485 words approx. 1.5 minutes to read

In April we asked Members to join in and tell us their waste frustrations. Over 8,000 got involved, sharing their waste frustrations and their ideas to tackle them.

We have searched through the thousands of ideas that were shared with us and selected ten brilliant ones and asked Members to help us prioritise them. Thanks to your input we have now shortlisted the most popular waste-reduction ideas, voted for by Co-op Members

Top three voted for waste reducing ideas

Repurposing egg boxes
Alison Leuenberger, Co-op Member

Alison asked us to consider whether the humble, pulp-based egg box could be repurposed to provide trays for fruits, such as apples and tomatoes, replacing single-use plastic with recyclable/degradable materials.

Note from the experts
Produce is an area we are really focusing on as part of our packaging work, and innovative solutions are always of interest for the team. Of course keeping fruit and vegetables fresh and safe for as long as possible is also a key consideration, but we’re always exploring alternative materials to plastic.

Virtual multi-packs
Multiple Co-op Members

Many Co-op Members suggested that we should take a look at multipacks and see if we can reduce packaging here.

Note from the experts
Multipacks can sometimes mean extra packaging and we’re looking at this as part of our work to reduce excess packaging overall.

Packaging recycling banks
Andy Watson, Co-op Member

Andy’s ideas suggested we provide food packaging recycling banks in stores, or nearby, for Co-op Members and customers to bring back clean, recyclable packaging.

Note from the experts
We face a challenge on space with our smaller stores and we need to be mindful of the difference in local authority collections around the country. But, as part of our recycling ambition, influencing customer behaviour when it comes to recycling at home and on the go, this is absolutely on our agenda. We have already trialled a deposit return machine at Co-op sponsored music festivals this year with great success.

 

We also think that there are some gems in the other 7 ideas shortlisted, so we’ll be considering all when we look at practical elements for trial.

What’s next

We’ve been genuinely impressed by the volume and quality of the ideas put forward by Co-op Members. Working with members to make a difference is a key part of our vision to reduce our impact.

Now we will be looking into the practicalities’ of how these ideas might work, with safety, shelf life and many more factors to consider. We are going to consult relevant teams and experts about how we can shape some of these ideas into practical solutions we can trial.

Keep an eye out from an update from us on how we’re progressing with the ideas towards the end of the year.

Co-op Members shape our Co-op by joining in #TheCoopWay

Cathryn Higgs
Head of Food Policy


Read more about reducing our impacts at our Co-op;
We’re trialing a plastic bottle deposit and return scheme
How we’re reducing plastic waste
We’re helping farmers boost bee numbers

Join the conversation! 36 Comments

  1. I admire the egg box idea – but am I right in thinking that ‘used’ egg boxes would then store fruit in?? (Unless I’m confused here!) I would not put fresh fruit into something that had stored raw eggs, some of the boxes can be tainted with egg spillage and feathers etc. I don’t buy or cook eggs due to allergies, which is another problem to consider. Unless I’m getting the wrong end of the stick here – apologies!

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  2. Plastic does seem to come out the villain, but is it? It is produced with less energy than say paper, it plays an important part in prolonging shelf life and provided the right type is used, it can be recycled over and over. I would like to see the coop using only recyclable plastic which does not get mixed with cardboard or metal in the same package. Simply get rid of mixed packageing.

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  3. So you haven’t actually implemented a single change to reduce your use of unnecessary, single use plastic packaging…Come on…stop using excuses like “we are working with our suppliers…” – just get on with it! I’ve already chosen to do most of my shopping elsewhere as I simply cannot bear the amount of plastic around your products, which is a shame as I like the fact that you put effort into selecting British produce and your veg actually has flavour, unlike some other supermarkets.

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  4. why cant you wrap meat in shrink wrap plastic instead of solid plastic trays which take up a lot of space and are heaver to carry you have the plastic already that you use for the top why not wrap the meat in it all round it would be lighter to carry and not take up as much space in shopping bags and much easier for older customers to carry

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  5. The big problem is water bottles…gallons..if everyone could have affordable water filter system the would be no need of buying lots of packs of drinking water..I have one at home and it’s a life and money saver…nothing floating in my tea.. My kettle 0 scale..my children drinking free from nitrates water and we use it for cooking as well. It’s an investment for our own health as well

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  6. Neve mind being mindful of local authority recycling schemes – surely you could take back the contents of any recycling bins to your distribution depots and recycle it there?

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  7. I always shop at the Co-op as I can walk there. Last week I decided to go plastic free for one week. When i went to the Co–op I was only able to buy 3 items!! I then went to a butcher’s and a greengrocer’s……

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  8. I have a feeling that a lot of the waste produced is pushed off onto suppliers.

    What about all the misshapen carrots, odd shaped apples and curly beans that you won’t accept from a supplier?

    Co-op is causing the waste by not finding a way to support producers and forcing them to waste the crops they grow.

    https://feedbackglobal.org/2018/02/22-february-2018-new-report-supermarkets-drive-food-waste-uk-farms/

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  9. Do you really need to stock every available size of Coca-Cola and Pepsi from 250ml to 2500ml?

    I know it has a long shelf-live but it does seem an unnecessary and wasteful amount of options for something that’s heavy and bulky to transport and carry.

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  10. Instead of a multi-pack the customer could pick up the same individual items as the big pack and be charged accordingly at the till. Hypothetically for instance 6 bags of crisps are 50p singlely but as a “multi-pack” are £2 but without the extra outer layer.

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  11. Black plastic is currently non-recyclable in Buckinghamshire, but a lot of meat and fish is packaged in black trays. Why can’t the Co-op and Indeed other supermarkets use clear recyclable plastic?

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  12. Could you change the packaging on toilet rolls so the empty bag could be reused as a bin liner in bathroom bin?

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  13. lets start with selling loose veggies.
    in Co-op even every single aubergine is packed in plastic bag!!
    Avocados have not only plastic bag but also a plastic tray!!

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    • Thank you for your response. Eliminating the use of single-use plastics is part of our overall plan to make 100% of our Co-op branded packaging easy to recycle. We are currently working with our suppliers to find alternative solutions for these products. ^Siobhan

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  14. Paper bags for loose produce lines !!!

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    • no, no, no! Paper is 10x as heavy and the bags take up 10x more space than plastic bags. Thus they are an ecological disaster in terms of transport. Paper might sound like the miracle answer to this problem, but it isn’t.

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      • This is interesting and something I’ve never considered. What is the data/numbers of the impact please? Do you mean carbon footprint? And how is this worse than using plastic bags?

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      • Steve ,it is the recycling we are talking about and paper bags are 100% recyclable, it doesn’t matter how much space they take up .

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      • Maybe customers just need to bring their own bags then we don’t need plastic or paper. I would just like to see loose veg in my coop. Then I won’t have to buy red, orange and green peppers when I only want 1 red pepper or a plastic bag of sweating carrots when I only want 3.

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      • Yes ,yes, yes ,paper is so easily recyclable and in the past when we used paper we didn’t polute the sea and counryside .It may take up more space but long term it’s the best option.

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      • Well do away with all bag’s then and sell loose.Or risk losing further species of fish/animals due to plastic pollution.

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    • I agree. We always had paper bags when I was young. Cannot understand why they don’t use them. Our local fruit and vegetable shop still does. Although I often ask them to put all my things straight into my carrier bag to save their bags.

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    • Yes please. Totally agree. I don’t use the plastic bags provided because they are plastic but by the time I’m home most of my loose veg/fruit is rolling about bruised in the bottom of my shopping trolley.

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  15. Could the Co-op introduce a way of collecting small waste batteries? My local non-co-op store has a bucket sized bin with a small hole in the lid which is ideal for collecting the A2/A3 sized and hearing aid batteries that replace regularly. Could my co-op do the same please?

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    • All Co-op group stores have battery bins.

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      • Don ‘t generalise our local co-op used to have a battery bin and a carrier bag bin but not any more.

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        • Ask store manager, they should have one. Some are behind counter

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          • Battery box used to be behind the cigarette/lottery counter but haven’t noticed it recently and the carrier bag used to be behind the row of checkouts but no longer there .I’ve moved on now and mostly shop elsewhere with these facilities available.The shop’s know it brings people in store and increased footfalls equals bigger profits.So by not providing it is their own decisions.

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          • You was right asked store assistant and they still had battery box down one of the aisle’s but they’ve definitely got rid of the plastic bag box that was visible and haven’t seen it in a long while 😑.

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  16. Deposit return scheme could be easily facilitated in our larger stores and filtered into the smaller stores as and when we refit them. I think we need to lead this as a business, aren’t we pioneers? As soon as we move others will follow let’s be at the forefront of retail instead of waiting. Our customers are requesting it let’s make it happen in 2018 and phase in progressively across the rest of the estate, could be funded by additional cost on plastic bottle usage , I’m a sure some of the bigger company’s like Coca Cola and britvic would support this initiative.

    Utopia would be , people seeing recycling as a value and would do it more even collecting some discarded ones, could give credit on your members card.

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  17. Why not sell loose Eggs , this could be a specific protected fixture by the produce section, customers can choose their size and you use a recyclable egg box or the customers own which you can charge for initially. Takes the issue of egg cartons away all together

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    • Egg cartons aren’t a problem – they are compostable. Loose eggs is asking for trouble at the depot and store!

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    • Each different council has different recycling schemes.It wouldn’t work in the whole of the country.Plus I bought some eggs reduced from co-op and a couple were broke.It’s high time they were taking off the menu !Some are gained by cruel cages, besides there messy and hard to clean up once dry.Plus people with grudges use them to persecute their foes.

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