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Co-op bans single-use plastics with new commitment

From: Packaging News

The Co-op has announced an end to single-use plastic bags in its stores, and replace them with compostable carrier bags

Around 60 million plastic carrier bags are to be removed in a phased rollout, as part of a new ‘ethical strategy’ which will also address food waste.

The lightweight compostable carrier bags can be re-used as food waste caddy liners, and will be rolled out to almost 1,400 Co-op food stores.

The blue-print sets out how the Co-op will ban single-use own-brand plastic products and reduce its overall use of plastic packaging within five years, and stop using hard to recycle materials, like black plastic.

The Co-op’s pledge on plastic will see all its own-brand packaging become easy to recycle by 2023. It has promised to use a minimum of 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 eliminated by 2020.

Currently the retailer claims that around three out of four products that it makes are now widely recyclable; recyclable however, does not automatically mean that waste gets recycled – other factors such as mixed materials on packaging, and collections play a big part in determining whether plastic waste gets recycled.

It says it has reduced hard to recycle plastics, such as pizza discs, sushi bases and cooked meat packaging, and now aims to go further.

Jo Whitfield, retail chief executive, Co-op, 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.recyclable but yield low quality fibre ‘and most plants are unwilling to take them because they cannot process the cups efficiently’.

“So even when they are recycled – about 0.5% of the 2.5 billion used cups in the UK annually, they are only recycled once. It has been thoroughly tried and tested in Australia where recycling and environmental programs are more effective than in the UK. It is shocking how little of what we put out for recycling, actually gets recycled in the UK.”

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