Packaging and recycling

Packaging has a place. It protects our food and keeps it fresher and safe for longer. But, we want to keep plastics in the economy and out of the oceans by using less and making it even easier to recycle.

We also know it can be hard to recycle certain products so we listen to your frustrations about recyclability at home and use them to make our packaging smarter.

In our stores

  • Our meat product packaging is now made with a single material so it can be recycled easily.
  • Our milk bottle top colours are a lighter shade, this makes them easier to recycle.
  • Our pizza bases are all cardboard, not polystyrene.
  • Our own-brand straws are paper not plastic.
  • Our irresistible tomato packaging is cardboard not plastic.
  • Our mushroom pots are blue, not black, so they can be recycled easily too.
  • We also stock compostable carrier bags in selected stores in England and Scotland. They can be used to carry shopping home and then within food waste caddies and bins.

Our progress

Co-op has always been at the forefront of removing hidden plastic where we can, removing unnecessary packaging, from removing plastic from cotton buds 11 years ago, banning microbeads and removing plastic straws.

Back in 2017 we stated that we want to make all our packaging easy to recycle. Since then we've moved from 46% to 72.34% easy to recycle. That means almost three out of four Co-op branded products are now widely recyclable, which accounts for 95% of packaging for these products when measured by weight.

That's real progress, but we know that we can do more despite the challenges involved, which is why we are improving recyclability, increasing recycled content, and changing materials to remove plastic altogether. This applies to packaging, plastic items, and plastics in products that you may not know is there.

Making our tea bags biodegradable

We're busy brewing up a fully biodegradable paper tea bag, and we're the first retailer to find a solution to the problem of plastic waste caused by our favourite beverage.

We've developed a version of our own brand 99 tea without polypropylene, which is an industry-wide method used to enable teabags to hold their shape. This move could save nine tonnes of plastic every year from being dumped into household rubbish and compost collections, as it is fully compostable and can be placed in food waste collections.