Lightweight compostable carrier bags, which can be used to carry shopping home and then be re-used as food waste caddy liners, are being rolled out to customers at around 400 Co-operative food stores.
It is the first time a large-scale food retailer has given shoppers over such a wide area the option of alternative carrier bags with a specific second use.
The bags have been a success when trialed in parts of the UK, and so from Wednesday (15 January) they will be available in a further 399 stores, covering 81 local authority areas with food recycling schemes which require householders to use compostable bags for food waste.
They are more than strong enough to carry shopping, and at just 6p each they work out at around half the price of food waste caddy liners bought on a roll.
The new bags, together with their food waste contents, can be turned into compost, which in turn can be used to grow fruit and vegetables in a perfect environmental cycle.
The Co-operative Food’s Environment Manager, Iain Ferguson, said: “Every compostable carrier bag used is one less conventional plastic shopping bag in circulation. We believe they will have a significant impact upon the number of plastic bags which end up in landfill sites every year.”
Conventional bags can take decades to break down naturally, and more than eight billion “single-use“, non-compostable, plastic bags are currently distributed by retailers across the United Kingdom each year.
The Co-operative Food is working hard to reduce the number of single-use bags given out in stores, and, thanks to the efforts of customers and store staff, is continuing to buck the trend in terms of usage. Last year The Co-operative Food used 64% fewer bags in its stores than in 2006, when industry-wide reduction targets were first set.
The new compostable carrier bags, which carry the seedling logo and are certified to the EN13432 standard, are made from a combination of natural materials. They are strong enough to carry home the weekly shopping, including heavy, bulky items such as milk and potatoes.
However, unlike conventional traditional plastic equivalents, they have also been approved for use as waste food bin liners, saving customers the extra cost of buying additional special food caddy liners.
The Co-operative also believes that the new compostable carrier bags could play a vital role in encouraging more people to recycle food waste.
Iain Ferguson added: “We are the only major food retailer in the UK to offer carrier bags which are also compostable and carry the seedling logo. Our aim is to enable our customers to recycle more of the products they buy from us – from the leftover food and packaging, right through to the bag they use to carry their shopping home.”
Among areas of the UK where The Co-operative has trialed the bags is Somerset. Steve Read, Managing Director of the Somerset Waste Partnership, said: “The Co-operative’s provision of compostable carrier bags is an excellent initiative. In Somerset it has allowed customers to take home their shopping and then use the same bags to line their food waste caddies. It saves them having to buy special liners, and has encouraged more people to support our food waste collections.”
The new bags are available from Co-operative Food stores, in locations where local authorities have a food waste collection requiring compostable bin liners, from Wednesday (15 January).
The new compostable carrier bags are being introduced in The Co-operative Food stores in the following local authority areas:
Aylesbury Vale, Barnet, Basildon, Bath & North East Somerset, Braintree, Brent, Brentwood, Bristol, Bromley, Camden, Cheltenham, Chiltern, Chorley, Christchurch, Colchester, Cotswold, Derby, Ealing, East Devon, East Dorset, East Northamptonshire, East Staffordshire, Eastleigh, Elmbridge, Enfield, Epping Forest, Epsom and Ewell, Greenwich, Guildford, Harlow, High Peak, Islington, Knowsley, Lambeth, Lancaster, Lewes, Merton, Mid Devon, Mole Valley, North Devon, North Dorset, North Somerset, Norwich, Oxford City, Purbeck, Reigate and Banstead, Richmond-upon-Thames, Rochford, Rugby, Runnymeade, Sandwell, Sefton, South Oxfordshire, South Buckinghamshire, South Gloucestershire, South Ribble, Spelthorne, Staffordshire Moorlands, Stevenage, Stratford-on-Avon, Suffolk Coastal, Surrey Heath, Tameside, Tandridge, Teignbridge, Tendring, Tewkesbury, Thurrock, Torbay, Vale of White Horse, Waltham Forest, Warwick, Waveney, Waverley, West Berkshire, West Dorset, West Oxfordshire, Windsor and Maidenhead, Woking, Wychavon, Wycombe.
The Co-operative Group is the UK’s largest mutual business, owned by nearly eight million members. It is the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer operating across the country with almost 2,800 local, convenience and medium-sized stores.
Amongst its other wholly-owned businesses are the UK’s number one funeral services provider, the third largest pharmacy chain, a growing legal services operation and a major general insurer.
As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Group, which operates 4,500 outlets and employs approaching 90,000 people, is a recognised leader for its social goals and community-led programmes
PR Manager – Regions
The Co-operative Group
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07834 090 014