Co-op members have backed a motion to make 80% of the Co-op’s packaging easy to recycle by 2020 – working towards an ultimate target of 100% easy to recycle packaging.
Members voted to tackle packaging waste at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) at Exchange Hall, Manchester Central.
The retailer’s targets are based on product lines and not weight, as this is how the Group says its customers “look at packaging”. In 2016, 46% of the Co-op Group’s own-brand products were in what it calls “easy to recycle” packaging.
The organisation wants to work across the industry to find new ways to package products as the “current norms are not working”, such as using black plastic because it looks good but is not recyclable. It also wants to inform and guide shoppers about the positives and challenges behind recycling.
“When looking at recycling, surely we should also be looking at reducing packaging as a way to reduce environmental impact.”
It has already replaced polystyrene pizza discs with recyclable cardboard, simplified its plastic trays used for meat, poultry and fish, and was the first retailer to change the colour of milk bottle tops for recycling purposes.
At its AGM, the organisation asked members to vote for “continued support to improve the recyclability of packaging, encourage other organisations to do more and help shoppers understand the positives behind recycling”.
During the debate, Stuart Parker, Lincolnshire Co-op president, brought a swede to the meeting that was covered in plastic wrap. Holding it up, he said: “When looking at recycling, surely we should also be looking at reducing packaging as a way to reduce environmental impact.”
The motion was passed by 99.05%. The full text read:
This AGM recognises that while 85% of Co-op Members say that packaging recyclability is important to them currently two-thirds of packaging in the UK on consumer goods goes unrecycled. Therefore, this AGM:
- supports our Co-op’s aim to make 100% of our packaging easy to recycle, with an interim target of 80% easy to recycle by 2020;
- encourages our Co-op to work with people across the industry to seek better ways to package food and maximise the amount of packaging handled by recycling facilities in the UK; and
- agrees our Co-op should inform and guide shoppers about the positives and challenges behind recycling.
The panel described how much of the Group’s work is focused on plastics, due to concerns about marine plastic and the warning that by 2050 there will be more items of plastic in the world’s oceans than there will be fish.