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Co-op was the first UK retailer to launch certified compostable carrier bags, back in 2007, rolling them out to a larger number of stores in 2018. They proved such a success, that we’re rolling them out to all our stores from May. Jo Whitfield, our Food CEO, explains why they’re better for the planet, plus her top tips on how to use them correctly.
In 2021, we want to make it easier than ever for our customers to do their bit for their community and the planet. At Co-op, we believe that lots of small changes can make a huge impact – and there’s no better time to start than today.
Sales of single-use plastic carrier bags have dropped by more than 95% in England’s main supermarkets since the carrier bag charge was introduced. This is brilliant, but there’s always more that we can do.
That’s why we’re making big changes to our bag policy, by totally changing the way we approach plastic bags. Firstly, we’ll be removing all ‘Bags for Life’ from our stores. At the same time, we’re rolling out our certified compostable bags across all our stores from May. It’s a fantastic achievement and I hope it paves the way for positive change in other retailers. Plus, we’ve recently redesigned the bags to make it clearer how to use them — so they’re easy to spot!
So far, the introduction of compostable bags has removed around 55 million single-use plastic bags from circulation. That’s fantastic. Customers are now able to purchase a low-cost, lower-impact alternative bag that’s better for the planet and offers a second use, too!
Making sure we’ve got a sustainable single use bag as part of our offer to all our members and customers in store is based on the evidence we’ve gathered, but of course it’s so important that we all get better at remembering our reusable bags. When you need to replenish your fleet of reusable bags, you can rest assured that we’ve got a range of options to suit your needs that are all made from fully recycled plastic, and that can all be recycled again when they eventually reach the end of their lifespan.
How to use your compostable bag
The new bags are certified as being suitable for food waste collections, and tested to show that they are suitable to use in home-compost bins. If you live in an area that offers a food waste collection service, simply use your compostable bag to line your food waste caddy.
If your council currently doesn’t offer a collection service (all councils will have to do so eventually), you can simply reuse the bag as you would any other plastic bag. We only ask that you don’t put it in the recycling bin, as it will contaminate the recycling stream. You could also write to your Local Authority to encourage them to introduce food waste collections sooner rather than later.
What can you do?
There are lots of easy but significant changes you can make today that will have a better impact on the environment:
- Remember your reusable bag whenever you pop to the shops
- If you forget your reusable bag, switch from plastic carrier bags to Co-op compostable bags. Or, if you don’t live near a Co-op and can’t get your hands on our compostable bags, remember to reuse any plastic carrier bags as much as possible to reduce their negative impact on the planet.
- If you haven’t already, check whether your council offers a food waste collection service and start using a food waste bin.
- If your area doesn’t offer a food waste collection, why not try home composting instead? It can help to improve your soil and provides numerous environmental benefits.
- Try to cut down your food waste as much as possible to limit its effect on the planet (when food waste ends up in landfill, it rots and releases greenhouse gases). Discover tips on how to reduce your food waste here.
We’re thrilled to see the roll-out of compostable bags across all Co-op’s stores. It’s a significant milestone in our mission to reduce persistent plastic use and complements our work to make all our packaging easy to recycle by 2021. Over the past three years, we’ve moved from 46% of our products being easy to recycle to 78%, and we are now working hard to complete that work to reach 100% easy to recycle food packaging.
Find out more about Co-op’s carrier bags as well as how we’re making all of our food packaging recyclable and reducing unnecessary plastic use.
Co-op Food CEO