Carrier bags hero 2021

Carrier bags

Plastic pollution is a threat to our environment, and carrier bags are one of the most visible culprits.

Buying a good quality reusable shopping bag and using it regularly is the best way to reduce the environmental impact of carrier bags.

We were the first UK food retailer to sell certified compostable carrier bags, which are designed with the second use as a food waste caddy liner. We think the best way of looking at the bags is that they are caddy liners that you carry your shopping home in.

All single-use plastic carrier bags are being replaced with compostable ones in Co-op stores, with profits from these sales donated to good causes, through our Local Community Fund. You can choose your local cause here.

If your local authority doesn’t yet collect food waste, you can still reuse our compostable bag to collect fruit and vegetable peelings to compost in your home composting bin. Alternatively, store it at home to reuse another day or use as a liner in your general waste bin. It is important not to put this bag into a carrier bag or any other plastic recycling collection, as this means it will not be recycled and everything else in the recycling bin may have to be destroyed due to contamination.

We have also made the decision to remove Bags for Life from sale, although we will be selling the stock we have to avoid creating more waste. Following the introduction of the carrier bag charge, research shows that sales of Bags for Life have increased, and they are now being treated by many people as if they were ‘single-use’, only they have a much larger plastic footprint. By removing Co-op Bags for Life from sale, we expect to reduce 870 tonnes of single-use plastic per year. For more information, please read our report, ‘Bag to Rights’.

PDF Bag to Rights: The impact of the Carrier Bag Levy in England, 5 years on PDF (1.30 MB)

The Carrier Bag Levy

The Government introduced a levy on every sale of carrier bags in England, Scotland and Wales to help reduce the impact of single-use carrier bags. We donate the profits from the sale of our compostable bags to good causes across the UK including our Local Community Fund which helps improve communities across the UK.

Find out more about the local causes supported by our members and how they bring people in the community together. Also, learn about how we are working with local causes and community organisations to build stronger and more resilient communities here.

Find out more about the carrier bag levy in:




Northern Ireland

Single use Carrier bag UK sales 2022