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Co-op announced today (Friday July 9) the launch of Europe’s largest in-store recycling program for plastic bags and product packaging. The rollout of the program is expected to see the convenience retailer become the first UK supermarket to have fully recyclable food packaging by the end of this month (July) and help tackle the confusing postcode lottery of curbside collections .

Recycling units for “soft” plastics will be launched in 1,500 Co-op stores this month (July) and 2,300 stores by November. The initiative ensures that all Co-op food packaging is easily recyclable by establishing an accessible disposal route for materials that are unlikely to be collected by UK councils, including: packets of crisps, bags to bread, single-use carry bags and life bags, ready-made food lids and yoghurt pots, cookie wrappers and pet food pouches.

Units in store

In-store units – which also accept packaging for food items purchased from other retailers – mean all of Co-op’s food packaging is easy to recycle, either via curbside collection or the in-house system. closed loop. The retailer estimates that 300 tonnes of plastic bags and food packaging could be collected per year once the bins are fully in place.

The national roll-out of the program follows a successful trial of collecting films from 50 stores last year, which found that 86% of shoppers were likely to use the service. It is also designed to reassure affected communities that the plastics collected will be recycled in the UK. The recyclable material is transformed, by Jayplas *, into post-consumer plastic granules which are then transformed into useful secondary products, including: garbage bags; rigid products such as buckets and materials for the construction industry – rather than flooding landfills, incineration or being shipped overseas.

In some areas, less than 30 percent of household waste is currently recycled, with systems that can vary from council to council, adding to the confusion. WRAP estimates suggest that just 6% of UK household plastic bags and packaging are recycled each year, despite making up (by weight) around one-fifth of all plastic packaging. The elimination of unnecessary plastics is balanced by the need to minimize food waste.

Jo Whitfield, CEO of Co-op Food, said: “As we face an environmental crisis, we know from our comments that there is a universal appetite for change. That’s why we’re making it easier for thousands of homes to recycle all of their plastic food packaging. This will not only avoid unnecessary waste, but also reduce plastic pollution. By providing a simple, practical solution to a daily problem, we believe we can help communities make small changes that together will make a big difference to our environment.

Helen Bird, WRAP Strategic Technical Director, said: “There is no doubt that unnecessary plastic needs to be reduced; including bags and packaging which represent one fifth of all consumer plastic packaging. However, where needed, there is an urgent need to design it for recycling and to ensure that recycling systems are in place. It’s great to see the roll-out of the collections in Co-op stores making a significant contribution to the UK Plastics Pact goal of having all plastic packaging recyclable by 2025. Not only the Co-op op ensures the service is widely promoted, it processes the material in the UK, demonstrating how we can rebuild better for the economy and the environment.

The rollout will be supported by a nationwide multi-channel marketing campaign – as part of a new partnership with ITV, a new co-op TV ad will debut during the Coronation Street commercial break tonight (Friday, July 9).

Co-op has always been at the forefront of eliminating hidden plastic and unnecessary packaging, removing plastic rods from cotton swabs before any other retailer 14 years ago, banning microbeads and removing black plastic (called “vanity”) from shelves in 2019.

In May, Co-op unveiled its new ten-point climate plan that sets out a plan for the retailer to reach net zero for its direct and indirect carbon emissions by 2040, including offsetting greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse of Co-op products and services.