Lightweight compostable carrier bags, which can be used to carry shopping home and then be re-used as food waste caddy liners, are being rolled out to customers at around 400 Co-operative food stores.
It is the first time a large-scale food retailer has given shoppers over such a wide area the option of alternative carrier bags with a specific second use.
The bags have been a success when trialled in parts of the UK, and so from today (15 Jan) they will be available in a further 399 stores, covering 81 local authority areas with food recycling schemes which require householders to use compostable bags for food waste.
They are more than strong enough to carry shopping, and at just 6p each they work out at around half the price of food waste caddy liners bought on a roll.
Iain Ferguson, The Co-op – “Every compostable carrier bag used is one less conventional plastic shopping bag in circulation. We believe they will have a significant impact upon the number of plastic bags which end up in landfill sites every year”
The new bags, together with their food waste contents, can be turned into compost, which in turn can be used to grow fruit and vegetables in a perfect environmental cycle.
The Co-operative food’s environment manager, Iain Ferguson, said: “Every compostable carrier bag used is one less conventional plastic shopping bag in circulation. We believe they will have a significant impact upon the number of plastic bags which end up in landfill sites every year.”
Conventional bags can take decades to break down naturally, and more than 8bn “single-use“, retailers currently distribute non-compostable, plastic bags across the United Kingdom each year.
Last year The Co-operative Food used 64 percent fewer bags in its stores than in 2006, when industry-wide reduction targets were first set.
The new compostable carrier bags, which carry the seedling logo and are certified to the EN13432 standard, are made from a combination of natural materials. They are strong enough to carry home the weekly shopping, including heavy, bulky items such as milk and potatoes.
The Co-operative also believes that the new compostable carrier bags could play a vital role in encouraging more people to recycle food waste.
The new bags are available from Co-operative Food stores, in locations where local authorities have a food waste collection requiring compostable bin liners.
England will implement a levy on all single use plastic carrier bags from 2015.