The Co-op is replacing its single-use 5p carrier bags with a new entirely home compostable version, as part of a major new ethical strategy launching next week.
The retailer will launch its Future of Food strategy on Thursday 27 September. It will set out Co-op’s vision to tackle a range of topics including food waste, Fairtrade and energy. The Co-op said 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.
Around 60 million plastic carrier bags will be replaced with the new environmentally friendly alternative via a phased rollout.
The lightweight carrier bags can be reused as food waste caddy liners, said the Co-op, and will be rolled out to almost 1,400 Co-op food stores across England, Scotland and Wales - initially in towns, cities and villages where the bags are accepted in food waste collections.
Co-op is also pledging to ban single-use own-brand plastic products and reduce its overall use of plastic packaging within five years, and to stop using hard-to-recycle materials such as black plastic.
It has promised to use a minimum of 50% recycled plastic in bottles, pots, trays and punnets by 2021.
All own-brand black and dark plastic packaging, including black ready meal trays, will be eliminated by 2020.
Almost three out of four products that the Co-op makes are now widely recyclable, which accounts for 95% of its products when measured by weight, it 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,” said Co-op retail chief executive Jo Whitfield. “Our ban on single-use plastic is central to our new ethical blueprint.
“The Co-op was founded on righting wrongs, and we first campaigned to stop food fraud. Now we face huge global challenges and have created a recipe for sustainability to source responsibly, treat people with fairness and produce products that have minimal impact on the planet.
“We can’t do it alone, which is why partnerships are key to our plan,” she added.