Co-op awarded for leading the sector in recyclable plastics

Retailer, the Co-op has won a major sustainability award for “leading the sector” in its work towards ensuring its own-brand packaging is easy to recycle, as part of a move towards a more circular economy and driving down plastic waste.

The retailer’s Project Closed Loop campaign was awarded ‘Green Initiative of the Year’ at the prestigious Grocer Gold Awards on Tuesday 12 June for the steps it has taken to replace unrecyclable packaging with sustainable alternatives.

In the last 12 months, Co-op has made great strides to making 100 percent of its packaging recyclable, starting by being the first retailer to switch to simplified plastic trays for all cooked meats, raw meat, poultry and fish.

Grocer Gold judges credited Project Closed Loop for “leading the sector” in sustainable packaging and recycling and hailed it as a “worthy winner”.

Cathryn Higgs, Co-op’s Head of Policy, said:

“As a leading ethical and responsible retailer, we have been working relentlessly for over three decades to minimise the environmental impact of our products. In the last 12 months, we have taken great strides to meet our plan to make 100% of our packaging recyclable and we are delighted to get endorsement from our industry peers at the very highest level.”

For 14 years, The Grocer Gold Awards have been a symbol of quality and excellence in the FMCG sector and award winners are decided by a prestigious panel of independent judges, plus exclusively commissioned research from The Grocer and its partners.

What has the Co-op done in the last 12 months to improve the sustainability of its packaging?

  • Simplified plastic trays used for raw meat, poultry and fish, making them easier to recycle and from just one plastic. Co-op was the first UK retailer to take a comprehensive approach to make this change, a move which was publicly supported by many local authorities.
  • Transferred all core sliced cooked meat out of PVC into single material PET trays, again making them easier to recycle.
  • Changed the packaging on chocolate selections to use a clear, recyclable tray.
  • Replaced all polystyrene pizza boards in own brand pizzas with cardboard ones preventing over 200 tonnes of waste going to landfill.
  • Swapped black plastic for high-quality cardboard across its Irresistible Tomato range which increased recyclability of the product and also prompted a sales increase of over 30%
  • Trialled biodegradable “green” tea bags which could prevent nine tonnes of plastic from being dumped into household rubbish or, even worse, being spread on land every year.
  • Announced that it will remove all black plastic from our shelves by 2020 as well as launch plastic water bottles made from 50% recycled content.


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