Co-op is set to remove single-use plastic bags entirely from over half of its stores replacing them instead with new compostable carrier bags.
The grocer has announced plans to roll out its new bio-degradable plastic bags, which are certified as compostable and will break down within 12 weeks, across 1400 of its 2500 stores.
It follows a successful trial in 22 of its stores where the carrier bags, which double as compostable bags for food waste, were sold for 5p.
Co-op has pledged to make all of its own-brand packaging recyclable by 2023, and use a minimum of 50 per cent recycled plastic in its bottles, pots and trays by 2021.
This marks the latest major push by a major retailer to phase out single use plastics, following news just last week that Lidl would scrap black plastic wrapping for fruit and vegetables.
Reusable plastic bags will still be sold in Co-op stores for 10p, alongside larger bags for £1.
“The first step to remove single-use plastic will be to launch compostable carrier bags in our stores,” Co-op’s retail chief executive Jo Whitfield said.
“They are a simple but ingenious way to provide an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic shopping bags.”
Greenpeace UK’s senior oceans campaigner Louise Edge added: “The Co-op has pledged to stop using non-recyclable plastic in their packaging, and this is a good thing. But they have not pledged to ban, or even reduce, single use plastic packaging or products.
“Their statement makes it sound as though they are matching Iceland’s ambition to eliminate throwaway plastic packaging from their own brand range within five years.
“However, when you read the small print, they are actually only pledging to get rid of non-recyclable plastics, something other supermarkets have pledged to achieve by 2025. We urgently need a steep reduction in plastic waste of all kinds, and the coop could and should do better.”