The Co-op is taking a punt on its customers’ ethical values with the rollout later this year of water in recycled plastic bottles that are ‘cloudier’ than regular bottles.
The society admits it is presenting customers with “an ethical dilemma”, but is putting its faith in a material it estimates could save almost 350 tonnes of plastic annually when it makes the change on all own-brand still, sparkling and flavoured water.
The new bottle uses 50% recycled plastic and is 100% recyclable, according to the convenience store operator.
The new 50% rPET bottles are sourced in the UK. The recyclate will be processed at Cleantech in Hemswell, Lincolnshire, with the bottles blown and filled at either Montgomery Spring in Montgomeryshire, north Wales, or Princes Foods’ Eden Valley bottled water site in Cumbria.
There will be no change in the price of the waters.
The Co-op is the first retailer to make such a move. It said it will “test the water” and present an “ethical dilemma” and see if consumers ditch more aesthetically pleasing products and shop with an ethical conscience instead.
“Working with stakeholders across both supply and waste value chains is key to increasing the recyclability of our products and sourcing scalable, sustainable alternatives as we strive towards a more circular economy,” said Co-op environment manager Iain Ferguson.
“Making this change will also create additional markets for recycled materials and, with resources reused and not wasted, gives consumers greater confidence in recycling.”
The new bottles are the latest in environmental innovation from Co-op. It revealed earlier this year it was brewing up a fully biodegradable paper tea bag for its 99 tea brand.
It has also waged war on so-called “vanity” black and dark-coloured plastic, pledging to get rid of it by 2020.
Co-op Food chief executive Jo Whitfield said: “We know that by working closely with our supply and waste-value chains we can find new ways of sourcing sustainable alternatives.
“Our customers expect us to respond to this challenge and help them make more ethical choices, and we’re dedicated to doing just that.”