Midcounties Co-op launches awareness drive to cut plastic pollution

The society wants to encourage collective action from shoppers to tackle the problem of waste

Midcounties Co-operative has launched a new initiative, 1Change, to reduce single-use plastic throughout its operations.

The scheme will see information on the issue displayed in the aisles of 40 Midcounties stores, to help consumers make more purchasing decisions and change their behaviour around the disposal of single-use plastic. The society hopes to inspire people to take small steps that can collectively make a big difference.

The signage will also highlight some of the key changes the society is making to reduce single-use plastic. Midcounties wants to reduce waste in its operations by 20% by 2022, while maintaining its current 99% recycling rate. Achieving this target will mean diverting 3,000 tonnes of operational waste from landfill and save £200,000 a year on costs.

Social responsibility manager Mike Pickering said: “We recently conducted a sample survey among our 700,000 members and the vast majority of respondents said reducing plastic is a high priority, so we’ve implemented the 1Change initiative to help us and them to do so.

“1Change neatly encapsulates, in a single message, the possibility of real change when many actions co-operate to have a combined and powerful effect.”

He added: “We have been working hard to raise awareness of the important issues of waste, plastic and sustainability, as well as changing our own operations, and 1Change is designed to help us, our members and the next generation, deliver tangible results.

“The introduction of the unique point-of-sale material will help inform and guide the public on single-use plastic and clearly signpost where they can make a change in their own purchasing or waste disposal behaviour. We anticipate that people visiting our stores will become increasingly familiar with the 1Change logo, and hope they become inspired to take part in our collective efforts to create change for good.”

Related: How co-ops can help communities guard against climate change

The messages on display range from advising shoppers to bring in their own container to use at the deli counters, sharing information on Midcounties products such as tomatoes that are now in cardboard packaging, through to choosing loose fruit and vegetables.

Two pioneering initiatives at the society’s Chipping Norton store are also included in the campaign. A reverse vending machine allows people to return used plastic bottles, with the proceeds donated to local primary schools, and customers can also bring in waste plastic to be used in the production of eco bricks for local projects. These are reusable building blocks created by packing clean and dry used plastic into a plastic bottle to a set density.

Midcounties is also engaging the next generation through 1Change as part of its ‘Plastic is Not Fantastic’ schools programme, with a target of reaching 50 educational establishments by 2022.

And the public can get involved by making their own 1Change pledge to reduce single-use plasti, at http://mid.coop/onechangepledge

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