The Co-op has replaced plastic bags with compostable versions in 22 local stores ahead of a full nationwide rollout, as part of a new ethical strategy to eliminate problem packaging.
The new strategy will see the Co-op ban single-use and difficult-to-recycle own-brand plastic products within the next five years. Black and dark plastic packaging - which has been singled out for criticism by waste experts - will be eliminated by 2020.
As part of the transformation, single-use plastic carrier bags will be replaced with lightweight compostable alternatives, which can be re-used as good waste caddy liners in homes.
The concept has been trialled in 22 Greater Manchester stores ahead of a phased nationwide rollout to almost 1,400 stores later this year, initially in areas where the bags are accepted in food waste collections.
‘Simple but ingenious’
The move is expected to remove around 60 million plastic carrier bags from circulation, or around 339 tonnes of plastic.
Announcing the new strategy, Jo Whitfield, retail chief executive, said: “The price of food wrapped in plastic has become too much to swallow and, from today, the Co-op will phase out any packaging which cannot be reused.
“The first step to remove single-use plastic, will be to launch compostable carrier bags in our stores. They are a simple but ingenious way to provide an environmentally-friendly alternative to plastic shopping bags.”