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Co-op moves on plastics

Greenpeace says the Co-op ‘could and should do better’ than its new ‘ban’ on single-use plastics
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Co-op moves on plastics

Yesterday (Saturday 22 September), the Co-op announced ‘an end to single-use plastic’ that will see around 60 million plastic carrier bags removed and replaced with an environmentally friendly alternative.

The announcement is part of the supermarket’s new ethical strategy, which will launch later this week. It has been designed to tackle food waste, healthy eating, saving energy and trading fairly as well as plastic pollution.

Co-op will ban single-use own-brand plastic products and reduce its overall use of plastic packaging within five years and stop using hard to recycle materials, like black plastic.

All own-brand black and dark plastic packaging, including black ready meal trays, will be eliminated by 2020, and a minimum of 50% recycled plastic will be used in bottles, pots, trays and punnets by 2021.

Compostable carrier bags

Lightweight compostable carrier bags, which can be used to carry shopping home and then be reused as food waste caddy liners, will be rolled out to almost 1,400 Co-op food stores, initially in towns, cities and villages where the bags are accepted in food waste collections.

The new bags will substitute standard plastic single-use carriers with fully certified compostable carriers of the same size and strength at 5p.

Greenpeace: read the small print

In response to the announcement, Louise Edge, senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said the pledge to stop using non-recyclable plastic in own-brand packaging ‘is a good thing’, but noted there was no commitment the Co-op would ban, or even reduce, single-use plastic packaging or products.

‘Their statement makes it sound as though they are matching Iceland’s ambition to eliminate throwaway plastic packaging from their own brand range within five years’, Louise said. ‘However, when you read the small print, they are actually only pledging to get rid of non-recyclable plastics, something other supermarkets have pledged to achieve by 2025. We urgently need a steep reduction in plastic waste of all kinds, and the Co-op could and should do better.’

The wider strategy

The Co-op’s Future of Food report will be unveiled at a supplier conference on Thursday 27 September and will set out Co-op’s vision to tackle a range of topics including food waste, Fairtrade and energy. It has been developed to meet the UN’s sustainable development goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all by 2030.

The Co-op already sources 100% renewable energy for its stores, but will go on to tackle greenhouse emissions through its logistics operations. In addition, Co-op will reduce energy, water and waste in its supply chain.

Click here to find out how the Canary Wharf Group has committed to becoming a Plastic Free Community.

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