Resource Use

Co-operative offers compostable carrier bags

The Co-operative Food, the grocery business of The Co-operative Group, isto become the ‘first’ large-scale food retailer to issue lightweight compostable carrier bags to customers, it has been announced.

From today (15 January), 399 Co-operative food stores across 81 local authorities (all of which run food waste collections) will offer customers compostable shopping bags for six pence.

Made from ‘biorenewable materials’, with the main constituent being corn starch, and excluding polyethylene, the bags carry the seedling logo and are certified to the EN13432 standard, which means they can be used for compost to grow produce. Alternatively, the bags can be used as a food waste caddy liner.

According to the chain, the move marks the first time a large-scale food retailer has given shoppers ‘over such a wide area the option of alternative carrier bags with a specific second use’.

Speaking of the new bags, The Co-operative Food’s Environment Manager, Iain Ferguson, said: “Every compostable carrier bag used is one less conventional plastic shopping bag in circulation. We believe they will have a significant impact upon the number of plastic bags [that] end up in landfill sites every year.

“We are the only major food retailer in the UK to offer carrier bags which are also compostable and carry the seedling logo. Our aim is to enable our customers to recycle more of the products they buy from us – from the leftover food and packaging, right through to the bag they use to carry their shopping home.”

The roll-out follows on from a ‘successful trial’ that took place in parts of the UK, including Somerset, last year.

Speaking of the news, Steve Read, Managing Director of the Somerset Waste Partnership, said: “The Co-operative’s provision of compostable carrier bags is an excellent initiative. In Somerset it has allowed customers to take home their shopping and then use the same bags to line their food waste caddies. It saves them having to buy special liners, and has encouraged more people to support our food waste collections.”

According to The Co-operative Food, the bags could help householders save money on the amount they spend on food waste liners, as they cost around half the price of food waste caddy liners (bought on a roll) from supermarkets.

Plastic bag impact

The impact of plastic bags on the environment has been a hot topic recently, with the UK government announcing last year that from ‘autumn 2015’, England will become the final UK nation to introduce a charge for plastic bags.

It is hoped the charge will curb the amount of plastic waste littered or sent to landfill, and follows on from figures that a similar bag charge in Wales led to a 76 per cent drop in the number of plastic bags issued.

The Co-operative Food has been working to reduce the number of single-use bags given out in stores, and last year used 64 per cent fewer bags in its stores than in 2006.

Read more about The Co-operative Food.