Co-op Rolls Out Compostable Carrier Bags In 1,000 Stores

The Co-op has this week rolled out its scheme to offer compostable carrier bags to customers from 1,000 stores across the country, replacing an estimated 60m single use plastic bags.

The stores are the first to offer the not-for-profit compostable bags following a trial in twenty-two of the community retailer’s Manchester stores earlier this year.

Shoppers, who forget their bag-for-life, can use the compostable bags to carry shopping home, the carriers then have a secondary use as food waste caddy liners – the bags will initially be rolled-out to Co-op stores in communities where they are accepted as part of the Local Authority household food waste collection.

The bags are priced at 5p, the same price as the conventional single-use plastic bags that they will replace. They can be turned into peat-free compost along with the household food waste, and are approved for home composting. The move is estimated to remove around 60M single-use plastic bags.

Iain Ferguson, Environment Manager, Co-op, said: “Our members and customers expect us to help them to make more ethical choices, and we are dedicated to doing just that. Reducing environmental impacts is, and always has been, at the core of Co-op’s efforts. The bags are carefully designed to help local authorities with food waste recycling, supporting their community and resident engagement and, reducing plastic contamination in a targeted way.

Marcus Gover, WRAP CEO – “We absolutely need to explore innovative ways of tackling plastic pollution, but there is a balance to ensure initiatives are well thought through and avoid unintended consequences. I’m pleased to see this reflected in the Co-op’s approach to its compostable carrier bag initiative by carefully designing an approach that aligns with existing local collection systems.”

“We are working to get closer to what our members want, need and care about. We have committed to removing own brand plastic products, and the launch of compostable carrier bags in our stores provides an environmentally-friendly alternative to single-use plastic shopping bags.

“We face huge global challenges and our ethical strategy sets out a recipe for sustainability to source responsibly, treat people with fairness and produce products which have minimal impact on our planet.

“However, we can’t do it alone and co-operation is key to our plan – we welcome measures designed to make recycling simpler and more accessible for consumers, which bring together supply and waste value chains to achieve a more circular economy.”

Marcus Gover, WRAP CEO, said: “We absolutely need to explore innovative ways of tackling plastic pollution, but there is a balance to ensure initiatives are well thought through and avoid unintended consequences. I’m pleased to see this reflected in the Co-op’s approach to its compostable carrier bag initiative by carefully designing an approach that aligns with existing local collection systems. By everyone moving in the right direction, we can transform the plastic system in the UK and keep plastic in the economy and out of the environment.”

The move is part of Co-op’s new hard-hitting ethical strategy called “The Future of Food – a recipe for sustainability”which sets out how the Co-op will tackle plastic pollution as well as food waste, healthy eating, saving energy and trading fairly.


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  1. We have been delighted to be able to support local authorities across the country with this initiative. Oldham council can attest to the impact of compostable carrier bags on resident engagement and plastic contamination. We would love to hear from any other local authorities who we could work with on this.

    Iain Ferguson, Co-op

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