How members have championed recycling and sustainability in Co-op

Approx 520 words.

Co-op Members have been the driving force behind our recycling and sustainability commitments for a long time but none more so than in the past few years.   

And it’s thanks to the thousands of members that have worked with us to help shape our new plastic film recycling scheme that people across the country can now recycle soft ‘scrunchable’ plastics at their local Co-op store.   

From setting AGM motions around climate change and sustainability to exploring where we position bins in stores, members have been involved along the way to help us roll out the largest plastic film recycling project of its kind in the UK.  

We know that reducing plastic waste and recycling is a key priority for our members, because they’ve told us many times before.   

They’ve shared ideas to help us ensure we meet our commitment of making 100% of our own brand packaging fully recyclable this year – including suggesting the use of pulp packaging instead of plastic – as well as dreaming of a green and sustainable Christmas, which saw us remove plastic and glitter from all our Christmas cards, gift wrap and crackers, and make them recyclable too.  

Last year, our National Members’ Council asked members what our Council priorities should be for 2020, and climate change and plastic recycling again came through strongly. This led to Climate Change (Responsible Sourcing and Consumption) and Inequality & Food Poverty being set as motions at our 2021 AGM, which were both overwhelmingly supported by members.  

So, when we began our trial of our plastic film recycling scheme in September, it was no surprise that our members wanted to get involved.  

More than 600 Co-op Members attended our online Join in Live events in October to discuss and learn more about the new scheme and share ideas of what they could do to get involved.  

In January, more than 14,000 members shared their thoughts and concerns as we started a series of conversations on climate change. An overwhelming majority cited plastic waste as one of their biggest worries and gave us ideas about the kind of accessible recycling solutions they’d like to see.   

More than 2,600 members also joined in to share their feedback on our 10-point climate plan which details our plans and commitments to tackling the climate crisis. Again, plastic and packaging reduction, as well as compostable packaging came out strongly.  

Members have helped us to understand more about how they and their communities can best support our plastic film recycling project, even helping to design our collection points.  

In February, members joined us for an online workshop to help us identify where recycling bins could be placed in stores, explore the types of information and labelling they’d expect to see located on the bins, and to tell us about the kind support and advice they’d need from our colleagues too.  

Our members have been the driving force behind our plastic film recycling initiative. Now it’s time to join in to help us make it succeed, together.   

There are always ways for you to get involved with your Co-op. Head to your member account to see what opportunities are available now

Mark Robinson-Field  
Member Participation Manager