Southern Co-op‘s latest green initiative sees it introduce compostable carrier bags made from corn starch.
The new, full-size shopping bag will replace the smaller compostable bags previously offered in 44 of the society’s stores. They are also designed to be used as a food waste caddy liner and will be sold at 5p each.
The co-operative is offering the environmentally friendly bag in 75 of its stores where the local authority collects household food waste recycling.
Gemma Lacey, director of sustainability and communications, said: “We want to encourage our customers to reuse bags they already own and move away from single-use shoppers altogether but we are a convenience store so understand this is not always practical.
“We hope this new bag will prevent more plastic from ending up in landfill – this echoes our existing efforts to prevent waste and use resources more wisely. As part of the commitment to remove all single-use plastic from Co-op own-brand products, three out of four Co-op branded products are now widely recyclable.”
While strong enough to carry heavy items, the bags are certified as compostable, which means they will break down within 12 weeks under specified conditions.
As a member of the Federal Retail Trading Services buying group along with the Co-op Group and other regional co-operative societies, Southern backs efforts to have all Co-op brand packaging easy to recycle by 2023 and a minimum of 50% recycled plastic in bottles, pots, trays and punnets by 2021.
Iain Ferguson, environment manager at the Co-op Group, said: “Reducing environmental impacts is, and always has been, at the core of Co-op Group’s efforts.
“The bags are carefully designed to help local authorities with food waste recycling and, reduce plastic contamination in a targeted way. Reducing the environmental impact of our products and eliminating single-use plastic is a priority.
“Co-operation is in our DNA and we are keen to share our work with others. We welcome measures to make recycling simpler and more accessible for consumers – bringing together supply and waste value chains to achieve a more circular economy.”