Let’s talk about the environment

Thanks to all of you who have already joined in to share with me your thoughts on ethical trade and human rights. I’ve heard some great stuff, so I’m now keenly anticipating your ideas about your Co-op and the environment.

At the Co-op we believe that it’s critical to do all we can to protect the environment and minimise the negative impacts our businesses have on it.

That means looking at the impacts of our products alongside our overall operations, and doing what we can to minimise the negative ones we have as a business and those that we pass on to our customers and generate from our suppliers.

We look to reduce our overall impacts in

 

  • climate change
  • waste and pollution
  • natural resource use

 

Across the world, human activity is having more of an impact in these areas and it’s worth pointing out that food production is one of the biggest global drivers of climate change, responsible for 24% of greenhouse gas emissions. Food production also finds itself very much at the receiving end of climate change, as the flooding, heat waves and droughts brought about by more volatile weather patterns present ever-more challenging growing conditions for food production.  

As a food business which impacts on and is impacted by climate change, we need to ensure that we are doing all we can to minimise our contribution to it.

I’m happy to hear your thoughts, comments and musings on all things environment, but if you need a starter for ten, then please tell me,

  • Is this issue important to you?
  • If it is, why? And if it isn’t, why?
  • What would you want the Co-op to do?
  • What could we do to help you manage your environmental impacts?

I’ll respond to the comments you post, so please do get involved.

Paul Gerrard
Group Ethics Director

Join the conversation! 55 Comments

  1. Hi Paul, my environmental concern is non recycled plastic. I’ve always tried to do what I can with regards to plastic bags by using reusable bags. However the recent news event regarding the contents of dead marine life where they have been found to have digested plastic of all sorts as made me think harder about how I use plastic. My investigations have found that there are biodegradable alternatives and I have purchased some, but when I go shopping I am finding that it is very hard to purchase prepacked food where the plastic packaging can be recycled. I thought the answer would be to buy only fresh produce but the packaging supplied to get this weighed and checked out can not be recycled either despite there being an alternative. I would like to see the Co-op to provide an alternative or allow customers to use their own alternative. This would be an unique selling point as there are no supermarkets offer this at the moment as far as I know. There is a package free independent mini market in Hackney, but so far the only one in the South East. Your views would be welcomed thank you.

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply
    • This is definitely important and not changing fast enough, but my understanding is that even biodegradable plastics are not straightforwardly good or problem free- in part because they have to be disposed of with food waste for them to be able to degrade (otherwise they also sit and pollute the environment). Obviously we need a system change so that we don’t use so much packaging in the first place, and perhaps source more locally so that packaging as protection is less of an issue…?

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      • Thanks for taking the time to give us your thoughts B. Really good point about biodegrable plastics. Our compostable carrier bags for food waste can be composted at home but not all biodegradable plastics can. Reducing packaging without driving up food waste is really important to us and we’re working to ensure where packaging is necessary that it is recyclable but that also needs some help from local authorities to ensure that household recycling collections are suitable too. Iain

        Like

      • The CO-OP definitely needs to address plastic waste. It appears to use more for fresh fruit and veg than the big supermarkets.
        Very little is not pre-wrapped, even individual items such as aubergines are packaged.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Jill, thanks for taking the time to give us your thoughts. I work in our food policy team and agree that packaging should be reduced where possible and that it should be easily recyclable. We’ve been working on this for many years and found some interesting things during this time! Like when we trialed cucumbers without packaging in our stores and found that this drove up food waste both in our stores and in customers’ homes.
      Where packaging is necessary we are working with suppliers to ensure that it is recyclable. You mention the bags for weighing loose fruit and vegetables– you’ll be pleased to hear that these can be recycled with carrier bags and many of our larger stores have recycling facilities for these. We have also been working with local authorities to try to improve household recycling collections too so that packaging can be recycled by our customers wherever they are in the country. Iain

      Like

      Reply
    • Firstly well done coop for opening up this discussion, it would be good to know how the comments here alter coop environmental policy and then we all need to shout about it so customers and other businesses back and follow in coop’s lead.

      Although already mentioned I would like to see coop move away from plastics, I hadn’t realised how all plastics are so difficult and resource heavy in recycling … So let’s stop using them.

      Regarding comments about promoting veganism , I’m not vegan/vegi myself but I am aware of the increase in people opting for this lifestyle and if it’s good for environment and could be a unique selling point for coop I think increasing vegan ranges sounds smart. Coop could also promote vegan recipes in their free ‘food’ magazine .

      Also quick and effective win could be to have recycling points at all stores. I know a tesco store near where I lived used to give tesco club card points when items were recycled in their fancy recycling machine… This was used LOTS , in fact maybe too much which is why they phased out the club card points.

      Ensure all stored run at carbon neutral .

      Regarding animal welfare. I was SO pleased to see my local coop start to stock free range chicken , this is a great start, could coop ensure that all coop chicken is at least rspca assured?

      I agree with comment above regarding fish welfare , if other companies are below par re animal welfare please don’t stock their products.

      Lastly once coop policies and practices have been agreed and positive changes been put in place please use us, the coop members to act as a mass of local marketing tools to spread the good news and promote the coop’s environmentally friendly approaches

      Like

      Reply
      • Hi Henrietta,

        Thanks for taking the time to share with us your thoughts on the environment. It’s funny you should mention that we could promote meat free meals in our free food mag. I picked one up yesterday (the pink valentine cover edition) and there was a ‘meat free Monday’ section with ideas for veggie meals. I’m also not veggie or vegan but they looked really good so I think I’ll give them a go! Your point on recycling facilities in stores in interesting, we struggle for space in a lot of our stores but we do have carrier bag recycling facilities in some of our larger stores and we are working with local authorities to support with more consistent household recycling so that customers can recycle our packaging wherever they are in the country – that’s going to take some time though. Great comment on using members to promote our good news.

        Naomi

        Like

    • I never buy vegetables from the Co-op because there is no organic but I agree – how much do we need packaging? I always go to Waitrose. Much of their veg is not packaged, though some is! Can someone give a thorough overview of this? We support the co-op either because of its principles or because it is local. Either way no-one is going to suddenly shop elsewhere because of a lack of packaging I would have thought!

      Like

      Reply
  2. I think its essential that the Co-op shows leadership in the retail sector on environmental and sustainability issues. The Co-op should carry out comprehensive environmental sustainability reviews of every aspect of its operation and draw up short, medium and long term plans (where they aren’t already in place) to drive improvements, with the aim of having near zero negative impact on the environment. Work should also be undertaken to co-operate and collaborate with other businesses (suppliers, competitors) and stakeholders on these issues. For example, in relation to the plastic packaging problem raised above by Jill Shields, Co-Op should collaborate with its suppliers to develop and implement viable alternatives.

    Like

    Reply
    • Hi Alex, I work on sustainability across the Group business and its good point that our environmental impact stretches beyond our direct operations and that we should (and do) also work with suppliers to help reduce their impact and that of our products and services. Naomi

      Like

      Reply
  3. Very good point, Jill. While it can be tough being a leader in health and moral issues (including the environment) it has to be always worthwhile finally. I have taken many such chances myself and I am still up and running (God be praised)! This is why I am with the co-op – banking etc. They are leaders in this field.

    Like

    Reply
  4. I think it’s really important that the Co-operative encourages customers to reduce their meat and dairy consumption, as this is a major factor in global warming. This could be done by offering discounts on plant-based products and in increasing customer awareness on the impact their consumption has on the environment. If more people went plant-based, not only would it help the environment, but it would also help to alleviate world hunger (as eating vegetable protein is a much more efficient use of resources such as land and water than feeding it to animals and then eating them). It would be great if the Co-operative could lead the way in helping people to make this connection and encouraging people to choose vegetarian options to help the planet as well as themselves.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    • I agree with this. Animal agriculture is such an overlooked issue by the mainstream. Few want to challenge the status quo or consider the impact of our diets as we’re all too attached to how we eat. Eating animals is resource heavy, environmentally disastrous and ethically troublesome. While our use of plastic is also an important thing to address, I think the most radical and significant change would be to rethink our food and it would be a brave and great thing for the co-op to lead on this. The world is changing, why not be ahead of the times rather than catch up later?

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
      • Also- moving towards a plant based diet addresses all 3 of the concerns you mention wanting to reduce your overall impact on:

        -climate change
        -waste and pollution
        -natural resource use

        Plus bonus point for health. As tritone said above, it would be good if you could increase awareness of the benefits (and necessity) of moving towards a vegan diet, and make this affordable, accessible and enjoyable.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Absolutely!
      Co-op is lagging behind in regards to selling products which are plant based; even most of the free from range contains animal ingredients. If people want to eat animal ingredients co-op sells milk, eggs, cheese and meat meaning that it does not have to put any of these into biscuits, cakes, chocolate or alcoholic beverages.
      In addition from a commercial perspective veganisim is growing exponentially in popularity meaning that there is demand for products to be made plant based, and when other supermarkets have a large range of biscuits, cakes, chocolate and even cheese like products free from animal ingredients the need to adapt the co-op’s range becomes apparent.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
      • Yes, that would be really great if the Coop could at least take the unnecessary dairy or animal products (like gelatin) out of their biscuits, cakes, chocolate and sweets. Almost all other supermarkets have a range of biscuits, chocolates, sweets, etc that happen to be suitable for vegans (often the cheaper ones) but for some reason the Coop doesn’t seem to have this, even in the low-cost range of these products. It would be so easy to remove the often just one ingredient (such as whey powder) from these products, and at least give vegans a small range to choose from. More vegan products please! I would much rather support the Coop than other stores, because of its ethical stance, but sadly I have to do most of my shopping elsewhere, due to the lack of vegan products in my local Coop.

        Like

    • This is an issue the United Nations has been promoting for a decade at least. People are catching on, as the stories are strong and compelling. The Co-op could spread the word in an enticing way by being there to help people act upon what they care about, and for more people to realise the large positive impact they world hunger and climate change through cutting down on animal products. It makes more difference than giving up your car, but is less inconvenient. Of course people can always choose to cut down on both.
      Over 1% of the UK population is comletely vegan, and this figure is growing exponentially (as mentioned). Yet this isn’t the whole story, as far more people are cutting down on animal products for environmental reasons, or catering for vegans, so the shopping effect is far larger. Additionally, vegans are loyal customers if you make them feel special. Co-op vegan labeling is great – all it needs is more products to label.
      Currently, even in convenience outlets, Sainsbury, Waitrose, M&S and even Tesco (who have fab own brand bean burgers) all have more vegan options and ingredients for meals than the Co-op. Pret a Manger have tasty well-labeled vegan sandwiches and soups. Virgin trains have a wonderful falafel bap even in their tiny sandwich selection. The more good options you have, the more people will go out of their way to visit you.
      Contributing to the community through shopping is fabulous, but I can’t do it through you as easily as I’d like as currently Co-op just don’t sell much of the food I’d want, especially when it comes to making a meal. Just one frozen meal product (not own brand), no sandwiches, a soup, and some jolly fine donuts.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      • I don’t think the co-op is actually bold enough to challenge the status quo, despite the fact that eating animals adversely affects all the things they claim to want to address. Piecemeal gestures…

        But look at sainsburys : http://fatgayvegan.com/2017/02/15/vegan-mac-n-cheese/

        Liked by 1 person

      • Please Coop, prove us wrong and add more vegan products! Especially sandwiches and ready-meals for those who want to pick up something for lunch. It would be great for your vegan customers, and also encourage those who aren’t vegan/veggie to try something that might reduce their carbon footprint, as well as providing a healthier option.

        Like

    • Thanks for your comments tritone3 and B, I’m Sarah and I work in our food policy team, interesting points you raise about the contribution of agriculture to climate change, its estimated to contribute around a quarter of greenhouse gases. We work with our farmers and producers to reduce the impacts of our products and our farming groups do important work here linked to the animal protein we sell. We also ensure that customers have a delicious choice in our stores if they do follow a vegan, vegetarian, or even flexitarian diet and so have been working hard to expand our ranges. You can read our Veganary blog here to find out more https://blog.coop.co.uk/2017/01/12/can-you-find-vegan-products-in-co-op/

      Like

      Reply
      • Hi Sarah,
        thanks for your reply. That’s great the Coop is expanding its range of vegan and vegetarian products, especially ready meals. However, I haven’t seen any of these ready meals at my local Coop. In fact my local one doesn’t seem to have much in the way of vegan products at all. I wonder if you could promote these healthier option more in some of your stores, not just the large ones? And also it would be really great if you could ask your product team to come up with some vegan cakes and/or biscuits or muffins or scones – some sweet treats would be very welcome! It would be so nice to be able to buy all my vegan products at the Coop, but the Coop really needs to catch up with some of the other stores who have large vegan ranges of ready meals as well as things like vegan ice cream and biscuits. Thanks for the blog link – that’s wonderful that the Coop had a Veganuary blog. It’s great to encourage customers to try to have less meat in their diet – good for their health as well as the environment, not to mention the animals 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Tritone3, we will pass this onto the team for consideration. Did you know our round ball doughnuts are vegan and there are a number of other in store bakery products that are too. If you have any ideas on particular items you would like to see in your co-op please let us know and we will pass this on too. Sarah.

        Like

      • Hi Sarah,
        that’s great to know about the round donuts (sadly I don’t like donuts with filling) but I would LOVE to see any of the following: glazed ring donuts, chocolate covered ring donuts, blueberry muffins, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake, lemon cake, coffee/walnut cake, marzipan, and maybe a Coop chocolate bar (dark or vegan ‘milk’) with nuts?
        Hope that’s enough to go on! Thanks for passing it on 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree about the packaging, maybe Coop can use it’s market muscle to encourage suppliers to do more, particularly the big conglomerates. A roll-out of solar panels for all store rooves would cut energy costs in the longer term and show leadership at the same time.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Hi Keir, Thanks for taking the time to post on the blog. Agree that renewable energy is important and 99% of the electricity we use in our operations is from renewable sources like hydro and wind. Naomi

      Like

      Reply
  6. I feel passionately that the Co-operative should be the leaders in responsible retailing. To be environmentally responsible and ethical all aspects of operation and all stakeholders should be thoroughly audited and reviewed. The aim should be to eventually achieve a model of operation including purchasing, supply chain and store operation that has a zero impact on the environment.

    Wastefull and unesessary packaging is my passion. Consumers have been encouraged to use single use items such as plastic water bottles, coffee cups, individually wraps snacks such as fruit etc, all in the name of convenience without any consideration of how to dispose of waste.

    The Co-operative should be at the forefront of recyleable packaging and provide advice and methods to recycle or dispose of waste.

    The sourcing of ethical products is also very important to the Co-operative and should be the differentiator which builds brand loyalty. More product should be sourced and more information available in store.

    To summarise, environmental and ethical issues are not just a passing fad, these issues are here to stay and indeed will become more and more important with time. The Co-operative should be the pioneer in the coming consumer revolution in environmentally responsible and ethical retailing.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Hi Simon, thanks for taking to the time to tell us how important the environment is to you and your thoughts on how we can impact right from our supply chain, to our stores and through our products and services.

      Where packaging is necessary we are working with suppliers to ensure that it is recyclable and we have also been working with local authorities to try to improve household recycling collections so that packaging can be recycled by our customers wherever they are in the country as that’s a big part of the puzzle.

      I don’t know if you have seen our blog on ethical trade but this may also be of interest to you (just click ‘join in’ on your membership account). Naomi

      Like

      Reply
    • I agree. It’s crucial for the environment that we halt the huge amount of waste and packaging that we are currently using. I remember going to Austria 20 years ago, and in the shops you couldn’t even buy a plastic bag – they only sold cloth bags. So ideally, completely compostable recycled bags as well as a big reduction in packaging. Why not have all the fruit and vegetables loose and provide paper bags for customers who don’t bring their own. It would be great also to have bins with common bulk products such as rice, pasta, beans, legumes, nuts, etc. And recyclable (at any Coop store) packaging for anything that requires packaging.
      It’s so great the Coop is looking into this – keep up the good work!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  7. I feel strongly about buying food from a company that supports the environment and I’d like to see this extended to the marine environment too. I’m pleased that Co-op branded chilled fish is labelled to say its from a sustainable source, but what I am repeatedly distressed to see is the large displays of John West tuna when this company has repeatedly been taken to task for their irresponsible fishing policies. I would suggest that ALL the fish that Co-op stock should at the very least carry the MSC label if they want to maintain credibility on the marine environmental front.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    • Hi Julie,

      Thanks for telling us how close to your heart environmental issues are and your support for sustainably sourced fish. We have some good news for you! Late last month we announced that we were extending our commitments on tuna sourcing to include brands such as John West and Princes. By the end of 2016 tuna under these brand is to be sourced from fisheries improvement projects (FIPs), working towards the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard. These schemes are independently checked and bring together the fishing industry, researchers and NGOs to ensure fish stocks are sustainably managed and fisheries do not negatively impact the marine environment.

      If you’d like to read more about this see: https://www.co-operative.coop/media/news-releases/co-op-launches-revamped-tuna-resourcing-policy

      We also work hard to ensure all our own brand fish is sourced responsibly and are continuing to increase the number of MSC products which we sell.

      Sarah

      Like

      Reply
  8. I’d like to see the Co-op take a lead in removing palm oil and derivatives from its own products.

    To the best of my knowledge, there is still no truly sustainable palm oil, our of there is this is very limited.

    The damage caused to our natural resources and wildlife including the impact on orangutans is well documented.

    I’m shocked to be honest that the Co-op still uses this considering it’s policies.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  9. Hi,

    Its great that the co-op has taken (and is willing to take) a leadership position on environmental issues. That the group has nearly halved direct carbon emissions in 11 years is a real testament to this.

    Obviously work has started with the low hanging fruit. Reducing store energy usage through better fridges, doors on fridges, led lights etc is an easy win which helps also to cut costs and thus makes cheaper prices. You need to be ruthless at driving this forward, thinking long term in terms of financial investment. But you also think holistically in terms of the environmental impact of shopping with the co-op – shopping with the co-op needs to be a lower carbon option (both for the same product and for the options of products available). This is where assessments and auditing come in – to see what can be done and to measure impacts. There are many ways the co-op can have a positive impact on the environment through the supply chain. Soils are being degraded and eroded in the UK at a worrying rate. Farmers need to be in a position where you can work with them to correct this, not so that they have do all they can just to make ends meet. Sustainable fish is another major issue which the co-op needs to address – both wild caught and the huge negative impacts of fish farming. Are suppliers reducing their emissions? Perhaps that should be a part of the tendering process?

    You also need to communicate this with members. I gather you have a pesticide policy which bans some pesticides. But which ones? and why? If you do such a thing (which presumably puts prices up slightyly) then you need to communicate why I should care and what benefits this has for me as a member. If you want to take us with you on this sustainability journey and you want to make ethics the co-op’s unique selling point once again, you have to take your average member care and be happy to support it.

    Thanks
    Alex

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Hi Alex – I have noticed our local coop has upgraded the fridges and freezers to much more economic ones I hope this is an indication of what’s to come nationally 🙂

      Like

      Reply
  10. Hi Alex,

    Thanks for mentioning our reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the last 11 years. It’s something we are really proud of!
    Great comments on us not only considering the impact of our operations but also the impact in our supply chain and of our products and services. You mention quite a few aspects of our work in your post so you might be interested to read our latest Co-op Way report, which details our progress in the areas you cover. https://www.co-operative.coop/ethics/sustainability-report

    Thanks for taking the time to comment on the blog.
    Naomi

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Hi,

      I’m aware of the annual sustainability reporting. Its excellent and I’ve never seen anything like this from a major competitor. So massive kudos for this, but there is never time for standing still!

      Thanks
      Alex

      Like

      Reply
  11. I would like to see plastic bottles replaced with glass bottles. When I was a child bottles returned to where purchased received the small deposit paid on them originally. That encouraged recycling. I don’t remember anyone disposing of glass bottles in general waste. That would go a long way to reducing the plastic problem. Hopefully others would follow.

    Like

    Reply
    • I saw a programme where there was a scheme where plastic bottles could be returned into a vending machine for recycling and the deposit was paid back. Cannot remember the country possibly Sweden.

      I have converted to milk delivered in glass bottles to help my local farmer as well as the nostalgia of glass bottles from my youth

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  12. My thought into the pot is probably seen more from a supply chain perspective rather than the consumer however, I still find this topic of interest. How about the coop looking at showing carbon miles (possibly traffic light system) this could encourage people to buy seasonal and local food rather than flying exotic fruits and veg all year round.

    The consumer is usually stuck in a rut and many articles state that it is us that need to change our behaviour however, human beings are a little like sheep. Some follow the crowd and go with the flow and I’m fairly sure that majority of customers fall into this category when it comes to purchasing food. Basically what I’m saying is if you want people to buy more sustainable produce then only supply that item. Better still put sustainable items on offer and advertise with meal ideas.

    Could the coop perhaps work with local schools to encourage our younger generation to have green fingers and contribute to this growing populations demand for sustainable food sources?

    Like

    Reply
    • Thanks for your view Katherine, we’re working with more local suppliers than ever, we’re definitely looking to champion local more and more. ^SB

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    • Traffic light system for rough carbon footprint from production (including animal feed and its import / land clearance cost, methane output of agricultural technique/animal), packaging, transport and whether needs refrigeration/freezing, etc is a nice idea Katherine. I really agree with you. Sounds quite a lot of work for complex products, though much of the basic work has been done for simpler products, so could start with them (meat, rice, bread, milk, fruit, veg, etc).
      It’s not an obvious issue, as sometimes fruit and veg from another continent can be more eco-friendly due to farming and energy techniques, and slow sea transport, and much depends on bulk, packaging, storage requirements and shelf life. Heated greenhouses here could be worse CO2 producers. Local meat/dairy (even organic) can consume a lot of imported feed. Paddy field rice apparently is a high methane producer. So traffic lights or similar would help us work out the best options from this complexity, which is near impossible on one’s own.

      Like

      Reply
      • Hi Sophie, thanks for taking the time to post. Great comment that you can sometimes be surprised about where the impact of a product is. We found this many years ago when we compared the impact of our Ava variety of strawberries from a farm in Scotland with those from a farm in Spain. The carbon embodied in the ones from Scotland was higher largely due to what the strawberries were grown in rather than due to transport differences. At the time I don’t think we were expecting that. Naomi

        Like

  13. Hi, there are loads of things you could be doing as a business to help. 1/ Stop selling fruit and veg in packets (we don’t need the likes of apples and cauliflowers pre-wrapped). In Spain I have even seen frozen vegetables loose in freezers. 2/ Sell some sort of light reusable bags that we can have for putting our fruit and veggies in (so I don’t need yours). Don’t sell me six apples in a bag when I only want three. When all your veg waste is past selling consider making it available for local chicken owners (Better than landfill).

    No three for two offers, or BOGOF, if you really want to tempt me just sell the item with 33 or 50% off.

    Hightlight local (we already have a local veg area in our Co-op which is excellent, but what about all the local cheese, yoghurt, butter etc.

    Although I always use reusable (cloth) bags, why can’t we also have boxes. Back in the 1970’s shopkeepers used to put cardboard boxes under the end of the check-out for customers use. If it worked in the 70’s what about bottle deposit schemes

    More vegan products (or at least vegetarian) as there is no better diet for the enviroment than vegan. I’m not vegan, but I do try and limit the amount of animal products I consume.

    Thank you for giving us the opportunity to have our input.

    Like

    Reply
  14. Hi Tina, thanks for taking the time to comment on the blog and I agree there are lots of things business can do. I remember cardboard boxes at check outs too. The reason we don’t have them today is that we have moved to crates (which can be used many times) for a lot of fruit and veg – this reduces the amount of cardboard waste we have in our stores. Naomi

    Like

    Reply
  15. Many supermarkets pack food in black plastic, our local authority won’t recycle black plastic, surely this should be addressed by all supermarkets and consideration should be to provide plastic containers that can be recycled. It would be great if as many products as possible are not sold in plastic but when it is necessary please consider the recycling regulations. Nina

    Like

    Reply
  16. I agree with the above, more loose fruit and veg rather than prepackaged portions as i am on my own and only need to buy maybe one or two items at a time. Also mushroom boxes are my pet hate…why can’t they be put into cardboard containers rather than brow/black plastic as we can’t recycle anything other than clear or white plastic in our area.

    Like

    Reply
    • I totally agree. More loose fruit and veg please, and recyclable packaging. Perhaps even some incentive for customers to bring their own bags/containers for the fruit and veg? I always bring my own paper or plastic bags, but often get strange looks! Maybe you could sell cheap small hessian or hemp bags or something nice that customers would want to reuse?

      Like

      Reply
  17. Hi Sally and Nina, thanks for commenting on the blog. I’ve been chatting to Iain, who looks after packaging in our food business about the point you both raise on black packaging. Very interesting to hear his thoughts. Black plastic is a challenge and its one we are working on. Currently black plastic is not picked up by Councils as its hard for them to sort it when they are segregating materials for recycling. Its to do with the sorting technology using light to determine the colour of the plastic – it cant ‘see’ black plastic currently. Its something we are looking at from both angles – can the sorting technology get better and/or can we look at other plastic for meat packaging – although there are some challenges with how meat products look in clear packaging for example. Naomi

    Like

    Reply
  18. I’m reluctant to buy fruit and veg that have been brought in from great distances – scallions and cucumbers from Africa seems crazy. We’re also imposing intensive agriculture on poor countries that cannot be sustainable in the long term.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Hi Trish, thanks for posting on the blog. We looked at the impact of sourcing some fruits from outside the UK quite a few years back now and found some interesting things. One of the products we looked at was strawberries – sourced from Spain and sourced from Scotland. Surprisingly we found that the Scottish ones had the greater carbon impact as transport didn’t account for as much of the carbon emitted as would have been expected and there isn’t as much sun in the UK to grow the strawberries! Really great learning here and not just for the Co-op, we had lots of interest in our research as food miles were very topical at the time. Great point about looking at the impact of our supply chains environmentally and otherwise. Its something we are very mindful of. Naomi

      Like

      Reply
  19. Hi, any chance your fruit and veg section could have paper bags? That was the way we used to be able to buy fruit and veg from greengrocers. I’m informed that we only have to use plastic bags now to enable the checkout staff to see what is in the bags without opening them. Or perhaps you might like to design and sell a lightweight reuseable bag? Cloth and net reuseable bags are fine for veg, but we have to pay for the weight of the bag each time too. Bring back greengrocer brown paper bags!

    Stop selling fruit and veg in bags, so we have to buy more than we need. Apples are a nightmare in my local co-op. Recently I have to buy 2 x 3 packs of granny smiths – in plastic and card, what the hell is the point of that.

    Co-op, good eco credentials – must try harder.

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s