Retailer Co-op has announced that it is phasing out single-use plastic and switching its carrier bags for a compostable alternative.
This move is part of a new strategy to be launched later this week, which will tackle plastic pollution, food waste, energy and trading fairly.
The blue-print sets out how the supermarket will ban single-use own brand plastic items and reduce its overall use of plastic packaging within five years, as well as stopping the use of hard to recycle materials, such as black plastic.
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Compostable bags will be rolled out to almost 1,400 Co-op food stores, initially in towns, cities and villages where the bags are accepted in food waste collections.
The Co-op’s pledge on plastic will also see its own-brand packaging become easier to recycle by 2023, as well as the promise to use a minimum 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 banned by 2020.
According to the store, almost three out of four products that Co-op make are now widely recycle, accounting for 95% of its products when measured by weight.
So far, it has reduced hard to recycle plastics, including pizza discs, sushi bases and cooked meat packaging.
Co-op retail chief executive Jo Whitfield 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. The first step to remove single-use plastic, will be to launch compostable carrier bags in our stores. They are a simple but ingenious way to provide an environmentally-friendly alternative to plastic shopping bags.
She added: “Our ban on single-use plastic is central to our new ethical blue-print. 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 which have minimal impact on the planet. We can’t do it alone, which is why partnerships are key to our plan.”