Channel Islands Co-operative takes plastic off local produce

‘Our members have been telling us they want to see action in this area. Plastic has become a very emotive topic’

The Channel Islands Co-operative is trialling an initiative to sell a number of local fruit and vegetable products unwrapped, in response to customer concerns about plastic packaging. 

The trial is taking place at the society’s Grand Marché stores in Jersey and Guernsey. The packaging-free products will include baking potatoes, tomatoes, courgettes and leeks.

Chief operating officer Mark Cox says the co-op – celebrating its 100th year operating in Jersey – will look at replicating elements of the initiative across its stores, depending on the outcome of the trial.

He told the Jersey Evening Post: ‘‘Our members have been telling us they want to see action in this area. Plastic has become a very emotive topic for consumers so we’ve been looking at, where we can, removing and reducing single-use plastic from the supply chain.

“It’s clearly a lot easier to do from a local perspective because that product is fresher and it’s not travelling the same distances. Hopefully this initiative will reduce the amount of single-use plastic and help inform people about the importance of local products – and why that’s beneficial from an economic point of view.” 

The trial is one of a number of moves the co-op is making to reduce its environmental impact. Last year it formed a plastics working group and it has worked with suppliers – including Woodside Farms and Guernsey Mushrooms – to replace black plastic in packaging with clear recyled PET, and to develop biodegradable alternatives.

It has also held an audit with its local packaging company to ensure that fewer of its in-store baked goods are wrapped.

“We’ve got some new reusable bags for life coming soon, made out of recycled plastic bottles. Once they’ve come to the end of their life, they can be recycled through clothing banks,” said Mr Cox.

“We’ve already taken out plastic that you wouldn’t even know was there. Our own-brand tea bags have no plastic in them and our own-brand cotton wool buds are now made of paper. Also, we took polystyrene out of our own-brand pizza packaging. 

“By 2023, everything within our supply chain will be recyclable.”