I was thrilled to collect the trophy for the CSR Initiative of the Year at last week’s 2018 UK Packaging Awards at Grosvenor House Hotel in London.
Having worked in packaging for nearly 20 years, I can definitely say that this was the highlight of my career so far. I’m so proud to have represented our Co-op at what is considered to be the Oscars of the packaging industry.
What we did
In 2016, we were the one of the first retailers to highlight the plastics problem in our Co-op Tipping Point Report. In the same year we launched our ambitions to make 100% of our packaging recyclable by 2023, with an interim goal of 80% by 2020. Since then we’ve demonstrated our commitment by:
- increasing overall own-brand packaging recyclability from 46% to 74%
- saving 200 tonnes of plastic by making our own-brand pizza discs from recyclable cardboard
- taking 459 tonnes of black plastic per year out of fruit and veg and replacing them with recyclable alternatives, preventing 364 tonnes of PVC a year being produced for our cooked meats by replacing with recyclable monomaterial aPET
More recently and as part of our Future of Food ambition, we started rolling out compostable carrier bags across our Food stores, replaced our own-brand water bottles with ones made from 50% recycled rPET plastic and saved a further 200 tonnes of hard to recycle plastic by moving Pan-Asian, Indian and Irresistible ready meals into paperboard, aluminium or clear polypropylene packaging.
The award shows the judges have recognised the collaborative work we’ve done over the last two years to remove around 2,140 tonnes of hard-to-recycle plastics.
We’ve worked with key suppliers such as Tulip and Dunbia to convert protein packaging into a single material which is widely recycled, with Stateside to convert our pizza discs from polystyrene to cardboard, and with Rowan and Greencore on our ready meals.
We’ve also done excellent work with our grower group to remove black plastic from the fresh produce aisle. This was backed up with some great innovation from the packaging industry, working with suppliers like Krehalon, Coveris, Klockner Pentaplast, Southern Cross and Smurfit Kappa.
It’s great that the judges considered us a ‘clear winner’ and saw fit to reward what was a true team effort from Food Policy, Trading, Technical and Product Development alongside both our suppliers and their packaging suppliers.
It’s a result that shows what we can do when we succeed together.