By Iain Ferguson, Environmental Manager

Last year we removed single-use plastic carrier bags from 1,069 Co-op stores, replacing them with our unique compostable carrier bags!

It’s wonderful to see our commitment to reducing plastics brought to life in our third summer ad this year. It shows how you’re doing good by the environment when you choose to take home our Irresistible ice cream in a 100% compostable bag.

Our bags are specially made to break down in the right environment; all they need is moisture, a little warmth and some bacteria. With this magical combination, the bags will form a compost that can be used as a soil improver. They completely biodegrade in compost systems that many councils use, but will work in your home compost bin too.

Having been involved in the development of the bags, I’m especially proud to see them take centre stage on primetime TV. A lot of hard work has gone into them – particularly our work with councils and waste collection crews, to educate them about the bags, so they start accepting them.

Their reception has been overwhelming so far, we knew they’d be popular, but we didn’t expect the reaction we’ve had. They’ve made an appearance on the BBC Breakfast sofa, 15 radio interviews and the newspaper coverage has been huge.

But this is just one of the things we’ve done to combat single use plastics. Our mission is to remove all plastics that aren’t recyclable or reusable from our products by 2023. Here are some of the other things helping us get there:

  • We designed fully compostable sandwich boxes for Glastonbury, using a natural polymer liner that breaks down fully in a food waste system
  • We’ve been testing out plastic bottle deposit and return machines at our festival pop-up shops
  • We’ve got water refill points at our Piccadilly Approach and Leeds University Students’ Union stores – with more to come soon
  • We’ve taken plastic straws out of our business and we’re changing the straws on our small juice cartons to paper
  • We’ve changed our in-store flower buckets, making them reusable. This follows on from the work we did a few years ago to use returnable crates for fruit, vegetables, and protein packs
  • We’ve just launched a new toilet soap in a recyclable paper wrapper. Solid soap lasts longer than liquid, and the perfume smells great too!

Get four quarter pounders and four bottles of Stella Artois for just £3.50

Following on from the return of our cracking pizza and beer deal, colleagues can now bag four British quarter pounders and four bottles of Stella Artois for just £3.50!

And our delicious vegan Incredible Burgers and CocaCola are included in the deal as alternatives to meat and alcohol.

Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. I believe all the progress Co-op are making, doing what matters most in todays climate in regard to improving the environment is highly commendable, and hopefully other businesses will follow our lead – as they do.
    Your article mentions water refill points being trialled and rolled out and I fully support this also.
    Would you please take a look at how we can succeed together to remove the estimated “millions” (yes millions !) of plastic cups being used annually in depots and other sites across the network at our water dispensers. We can show we care even more by encouraging refillable bottles and introducing recyclable paper cups be used in lieu of one-time-use plastic cups on the current machines. The water dispensers are used primarily for a quick refreshment, therefore it may be possible to change the design to those which produce a fountain for drinking – used currently at some other public places such as airports.

  2. Good stuff, but can we stop advertising them on Co-op radio in stores that don’t stock them?

  3. I met a keen Co- op shopper at the Clitheroe Food Festival on Saturday whilst I was helping Clitheroe Fairtrade group with their stand. The customer had moved from London to Clitheroe. She shops at the Co- ops near Clitheroe. Initially we discussed the Irresistible Plain chocolate, a former favourite of hers which she cannot have now as an new animal product ingredient has been added.
    Likewise the Co-op soap. It is vegan, but the new addition of perfume means she cannot use it as it isn’t suitable for her skin. The customer is puzzled why the new product formulations aren’t suitable now. She enjoys the expanding range of vegan meals and wines. Worth considering whether new formulations are suitable for vegans when product managers are sourcing products.

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Community, Council, Food, Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities

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