The Co-operative Group has introduced compostable carrier bags, which can be re-used as food waste caddy liners.
It is hoped the lightweight carriers, available at around 400 Co-operative food stores for 6p each, will reduce the amount of food waste and disposable bags sent to landfill sites.
The bags, made from natural materials, have been successfully tested in selected Co-operative Food shops, including stores in Somerset.
Steve Read, managing director of the Somerset Waste Partnership, says: “This is an excellent initiative. It has allowed customers to take home their shopping and 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.”
The recycled waste will be turned into compost by local councils, who require households to use compostable bags.
The Co-operative Food’s environment manager, Iain Ferguson, says: “Every compostable bag used is one less conventional plastic shopping bag in circulation. We believe they will have a significant impact on the number of plastic bags which end up in landfill.”
The Group also hopes to cut the number of single-use bags given out. According to the Waste and Resources Action Programme, 8.1bn single-use bags were used at supermarkets in the UK in 2012, up 1.3% from 2011. But last year, the Co-operative Food used 64% fewer bags in its stores than in 2006.
“We are the only major UK food retailer to offer compostable carrier bags that carry the seedling logo,” says Mr Ferguson.
“Our aim is to enable customers to recycle more of the products they buy from us – from leftover food and packaging to the bag they use to carry their shopping home.”