What are the East of England Co-op doing about single use plastic?
Acting in an ethical, sustainable way is part of who we are - in fact, it’s one of the reasons we were created. And we are continuously looking at ways to reduce single use plastic as a responsible retailer.
Did you know?
Back in 2008 we were one of the first retailers to start charging for single use carrier bags, many years before the legislation was brought in to make it mandatory. We saw an 83% reduction in customers buying carrier bags once we introduced the charge and by the end of 2015 we stopped selling them altogether!
Today we sell a compostable carrier bag and two other reusable plastic carrier bags - 25% of the plastic bag is made from a sustainable source and we replace and recycle any worn-out bags free of charge in our stores.
We also sell a bottle for life which encourages people to fill up their bottle at home or work before they travel. Once it has worn out, we will replace it free of charge.
What about plastic packaging?
Although we are an independent society, we are part of a buying group with other Co-operatives around the country. The largest Co-operative being the Co-operative Society based in Manchester have all of the own brand products including the fruit and vegetables produced or grown for them.
They work with the suppliers to try and ensure that the right amount of packaging is used for their own brand products. This is a link to their website which explains some of the things that they are currently doing: http://www.co-operativefood.co.uk/food-matters/preventing-waste/preventing-packaging-waste/.
The ambition of the Co-operative Society in Manchester is for all packaging to be 100% easy to recycle by 2023.
If you would like further details of their policies around packaging then they can be contacted on: 0800 0686 727.
Why aren’t we using paper bags for produce?
There was a 2011 report by the Environment Agency that 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, as well as the emissions throughout the process, transportation and the end of life recycling.
Any changes we make need to consider the impact through the process and have a lower impact on the environment. We will make changes that are sustainable and we are continuing to monitor what is available.