Caring for the environment

In this section

Everyone has a part to play in looking after the environment.

We care about the world around us - that's why we support environmental efforts locally as well as trade in a way that's environmentally friendly.

  • The Salvation Army Trading Company

    We believe that we have an important part to play in reducing waste and supporting others that re-use and recycle wherever possible.

    Every year an estimated £140 million worth (around 350,000 tonnes) of used clothing goes to waste in landfill.

    That's why we've decided to work with The Salvation Army Trading Company to install 60 clothing collection banks at our stores across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

    Their textile recycling banks help reduce the impact on landfill sites, and by recycling your clothes, shoes and textile items - such as bed linen, curtains and accessories, you can make a real difference to the environment.

    Through your act of recycling, you can also help support vulnerable people throughout the country. Profit made from your donations is given to The Salvation Army which provides homelessness and addiction services, care for older people, help at emergency incidents, support for adult victims of human trafficking in England and Wales, a Family Tracing Service and much more.

    In the first six months of having clothing collection banks at our stores, we saved a fantastic 79 tonnes of clothes from going to landfill. You can check whether your local Co-op store has a collection point on our store finder.

    Did you know?

    Salvation Army Trading Company regularly collects more than 30,000 tonnes of textiles for re-use and recycling each year. That is an annual saving of more than 238,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

    Less than 1% of what is collected is sent the landfill. The other 99% is re-used or recycled while the organisation works towards a target of zero waste to landfill.
    Currently 12% of used clothing is reused in the UK, 34% is reuszed overseas and 14% is recycled.

    Clothing made from natural materials like cotton, wool and leather produce a range of greenhouse gases while biodegrading in landfill sites.

    For every tonne of textiles reused rather than sent to landfill, carbon dioxide emissions - a major cause of global warming- are reduce by around 7 tonnes.

    Extending the average life of clothes by nine months would save £5 billion in resources used to supply, launder and dispose of clothing.

  • The Wildlife Trust

    Working with the Wildlife Trust, we've funded a number of fun and educational events across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

    Ideal for kids to learn about the natural world around them, as well as adults wanting to make a difference to their local environment, these varied activities are a great way to get back to nature, whilst giving back too.

  • Food Safety

    Save money and reduce waste by eating, cooking or freezing food by the 'Use By Date'

    According to 'Love Food, Hate Waste' we throw away around 7 million tonnes of food and drink every year, costing us a staggering £12.5billion. By getting to grips with 'Use By' and 'Best Before' labels, you could not only save food from going to waste but also save money on your weekly shop, in fact the average family could save £700 a year.

    As a business we entered a Primary Authority Partnership for Food Safety with Ipswich Borough Council in July 2013 with the aim of ensuring that our food safety meets the highest standards you’d expect from your local Co-op.  This Partnership means we have access to specialist advise on food safety, and what better time to share some of this advice with you than Food Safety Week.

    For some advice on making sure you're storing and cooking food safely, check out these top tips from the Food Standards Agency. 

    The Food Standard Agency's top tips to help reduce food waste

    Know the difference between 'Use By' and 'Best Before' datesUse By Date Low Res
    'Use by' dates are the most important date to consider, as these relate to food safety. Most foods can be frozen up until the 'Use By' date, but not after.

    'Best before' dates are about quality, not safety. When the date is passed, it doesn't mean that the food will be harmful, but it might begin to lose its flavour and texture.
    Don't trust the sniff test!
    Food can look and smell fine even after its use-by date, but that doesn't mean its safe to eat. It could still be contaminated. You cannot see, smell or taste the bugs that cause food poisoning.

    How long can I freeze things for and what about the 'Use By' date?
    Foods can be stored safely in a correctly functioning freezer for years without going off.

    The freezer is like a pause button, so you can freeze foods right up to the 'Use By' date. Whilst food is kept safe in the freezer, it's the quality that deteriorates over time, so we recommend consumption within three to six months and check for any freezing instructions on the packaging.

    When should I freeze food?
    Many people believe food can only be frozen on the day of purchase however, you can safely freeze most foods right up to the 'Use By' date. Although it would be good to freeze it as soon as you know you aren't going to use it before its 'Use By' date expires.

    Did you know that you can safely freeze raw and cooked meat?
    You can cook defrosted meat into a new meal and freeze for use on another day.

    Simply defrost overnight in the fridge (be careful that raw meat doesn't drip on any other foods in the fridge and check it is thoroughly defrosted), use within 24 hours and cook till steaming hot.

    How long can you freeze meat for?
    Generally you can freeze meat for a long time and it will still be safe to eat, but the quality will deteriorate so it's best to eat it within three to six months. Don't worry if it's frozen for longer - try marinating it before cooking to improve texture or use herbs and spices to add flavour.

    Make the most of multi-buys
    You can buy large packets of meat (i.e. chicken breasts) and freeze them individually in smaller bags. You can also cook enough for two (or more!) meals and eat one and freeze some for later - this avoids waste and minimises the effort of cooking. Most of what is in people's freezers is either bought frozen food, or food bought fresh and then frozen.

    Batch cooking
    Cooking new meals from leftovers and freezing homemade foods, can be a great way of saving money (and time) and using up foods approaching their 'Use By' date as well as reducing waste.

    Wrap up
    Is is best to place food in an air tight container or wrap food well in foil, freezer wrap or cling film before placing in the freezer, otherwise the cold air will dry it out. Try to expel any air from the freezer bags.

    Try and get into the habit of checking what you already have in the fridge and freezer before you go shopping. Use up foods that are approaching their 'Use By' date and other fresh foods like fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, cheese or milk first as these can go off over time. 

    Our partnership with Ipswich Borough Council

    Hundreds of thousands of customers choose to trust us each day to provide them with high quality produce from a clean and safe environment.

    We work closely with our Primary Authority Partners Ipswich Borough Council and, in particular, Principal Environmental Health Officer Simon Manning, to ensure we meet the high standards you'd expect from your local Coop.

    This Primary Authority Partnership means we have access to specialist advice on food safety and we receive reassurance that our food safety management is robust and compliant.   The Partnership also provides other Councils in the areas we trade with reliable information about us as a business and in particular about how we manage Food Safety.

    We're proud that all of our stores across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex have achieved a Food Hygiene Rating of four or above - in fact 95%* of our stores have achieved the highest rating of five!

    Did you know?...

    All food outlets, whether food stores or restaurants, are assessed by there local Environmental Health Office and given a rating. If you're planning to eat out or looking for food to enjoy at home, you can look up the store or restaurant online at

    * Figures correct at time of publishing.