Taking responsibility

As a large independent retailer, we know we have a responsibility to reduce our impact on the environment. 

Never afraid to try new things, we're incredibly proud to have led the way on reducing food waste with our Co-op Guide to Dating initiative and ensuring all our energy comes from renewable sources. These are important steps on our journey to becoming a more environmentally responsible retailer - but we know we can do more. 

We have a responsibility to help ensure that future generations can live in a clean and sustainable environment, and we will continue to innovate and adapt our services to help achieve this. 

100% of our electricty is from green sources
We saved over 200,000 edible food items from going to landfill in 2018

 

Co-operative Value No. 2 - Self-responsibility

Find out more about why we do what we do

We saved more than 200,000 items of edible food from landfill

In 2017, we were the first major retailer to begin selling edible food beyond its 'Best Before' date for a nominal 10p.

Both reducing food waste and educating customers on the difference between 'Best Before' and 'Use by' dates, the Co-op Guide to Dating has proven to be a huge success. 

Starting out with tins, packet and dry goods, frozen and fresh lines were added in 2018, resulting in more than 200,000 items of edible food being saved from going to landfill in the first year alone. 

Thanks to our members and customers embracing this award-winning initiative, we believe we can save up to 350 tonnes of edible food from going to landfill each year. That's equivalent to 850,000 can of tomatoes!

What about the rest? 

100% of all our food waste with a 'Use by' date is sent to anaerobic digestion, converting it into biogas and compost fertiliser. 

Click here to find out more.

Fifers Lane achieves Gold!

We're very pleased that our Fifers Lane food store has achieved a Gold Award for their efforts to reduce their carbon emissions. 

Awarded by the Carbon Charter, the Panel were particularly impressed by the closed fronted refrigeration, reduction of waste and energy use, publicty of recycling and local produce, as well as credited store colleagues for their enthusaism and engagement.

Regional retailer gains global recognition

We were thrilled to see the Co-op Guide to Dating capture the attention of the media, with coverage as far away as the USA, Italy and China!

And the icing on the cake - being recognised by some of the most prestigious awards in our industry, including the Grocer Gold Waste Not Want Not Award and the IGD (Institute of Grocery Distribution) Sustainable Futures Award. 

The judges said the Co-op Guide to Dating is "Truly pioneering", "One for others to follow" and "Brilliantly executed and hugely influential".

Did you know?

Globally, between a third and a half of all food produced for human consumption is wasted. That's about 7 million tonnes per year in the UK alone!

Our bags are compostable or reusable

Back in 2008, we were one of the first retailers to start charging for single-use carrier bags, and by the end of 2015 we stopped selling them altogether. 

Today, we sell a compostable bag and reusable plastic carrier bags. We've spent a great deal of time finding the most suitable bags for our customers, whilst also looking at their environmental impact. New to our range, and to eventually replace all our reusable carriers, is a plastic bag made using 100% recycled LDPR (low density polyethylene). This material is used to make carrier bags and food wrappers, for items such as bread and frozen foods, and is widely recycled. 

Made from a sustainable source, our plastic bags are recyclable and when they are worn-out, we will replace them free-of-charge and ensure the old ones are recycled. 

Plastic Vs Paper

We're often contacted by our customers asking if we have considered replacing our plastic carrier-bags with paper ones. 

In 2011, a report from the Environment Agency concluded that the environmental impact of paper bags was comparable, or even higher, to that of plastic. 

The research looked at the process from start to finish, including transportation of the raw materials, the emissions throughout the process and the end of life recycling. They found that the carbon footprint was four times that of plastic bags. 

We are continuously looking at what is available and what the best options are, both for the planer and for our customers. 

What's in a logo?

We are part of a buying group with other Co-operatives from around the country. The largest Co-op, the Co-operative Group whose head office is in Manchester, have the Co-op (or blue cloverleaf) branded products produced and grown for them. 

They work closely with their suppliers to ensure that the right amount of packaging is used on Co-op brand products, with the ambition for all packaging to be 100% easy to recycle by 2023. 

It's a wrap!

Deciding what can and can't be recycled is not always easy. There are so many factors that can affect an item's recyclability, including which Council collects your waste and what they can process.

To try and reduce as much packaging as possible from going to landfill, we've extended a recent trial to a number of our stores, allowing our customers and members to recycle the following items: 

  • Carrier bags - Don't forget! We will replace any bag for life, even if it is from another Supermarket
  • Toilet and kitchen roll packaging
  • Bread bags (no wax or heat-sealed, usually used on fresh bread, as these cannot yet be recycled)
  • Magazine wrap - Be sure to check! Some magazine wrap is now biodegradable, made from materials such as potato starch. These can be disposed of in general waste or popped on your compost heap
  • Multi-pack film packaging
  • O, and we collect and recycle used batteries too!

Look carefully at the plastics that we can accept, as unfortunately not everything can be accepted including some produce packaging.

Do you regularly grab a bottle of water when you're out and about? If the answer is yes, then you should consider picking up one of our Bottles for Life. Available in all East of England Co-op food stores, for a one-off charge of £2.49, you'll have a refillable, eco-friendly bottle - for life. You pay once and we will give you a free replacement if the bottle is returned faulty. 

All our electricity is from renewable, green sources

We’re committed to using energy from sustainable sources, to power our stores, branches and head office and deliver our services to our members and customers.  

All our electricity is from renewable, green sources, and the installation of Smart Metering of gas and electricity is helping us to identify where energy consumption is higher than expected and take action to reduce it.  

Solar panels fitted at our head office in Wherstead, Suffolk, as well as on several of our stores, generated just under 58,000 Kwh/yr from April 2018 to April 2019. That’s the same amount of electricity used by 18.7 average medium UK households - the equivalent use of UK grid electricity would have resulted in 16.41 tonnes of CO2.    

In-store, we use the latest energy efficient technology, assessing each site in line with our refurbishment programme, including LED lighting, intelligent heating controls and energy efficient refrigeration.  

We aim to reduce our carbon emissions by 3% year-on-year

We measure carbon emissions from our electricity, gas and heating oil usage and road fuel. Working closely with the Suffolk Carbon Charter, as a Pathfinder Partner, we look at both our own stores and branches, as well as encourage our suppliers and Sourced Locally partners to get involved and work towards Suffolk Carbon Charter Accreditation.  

The Suffolk Carbon Charter is an award presented to recognise the steps taken by small and medium local businesses to reduce their carbon emissions and support the local environment. 

For more information click here.

During 2018, our charging points were used an average of 112 times per month 

With a growing number of electric cars taking to our roads, we've introduced eight Electric Vehicle Charging stations at our stores, branches and head office. Further sites are being considered.
 

If you need a top-up, head to the following:

A Responsible Business

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Values and principles.

Why we do what we do

The first co-operatives back in the 1800s were formed as a different way of doing business that was better for everyone, driven by values and principles which still guide co-ops to this day. 

Today, we're proud to be the largest independent retailer operating in the East of England. We provide food stores and specialist services, such as funerals, security, travel agents and petrol filling stations to communities across Essex. Norfolk. Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. 

With a significant property portfolio and other businesses, such as events and conference facilities and stonemasonry, we are a diverse and modern business. 

As a co-operative business. we're run differently to other big organisations, putting our members first. Our focus has always been, and always will be, the local communities in our region.