A new deal between UK supermarket the Co-op and bioplastics firm Novamont will see single-use plastic bags replaced with compostable bags in more than 1,000 of the company's outlets across the UK as it starts its phased plan to lessen its impact on the environment

The Co-Operative 39106

The new compostable carrier bag at the Co-op (Credit: Co-op/Neil O'Connor)

Plastic carrier bags are set to be a thing of the past for the Co-op following a new partnership that will see it supplied with compostable bags instead.

The UK supermarket has signed a deal with bioplastics firm Novamont to receive an alternative to the traditional non-biodegradable option.

It comes as part of the Co-op’s ethical strategy, announced last month, in which about 60 million traditional single-use plastic carrier bags – equal to 340 tonnes of plastic – will be phased out in gradual increments.

Co-op environment manager Iain Ferguson said: “Our members and customers expect us to help them to make more ethical choices, and we are dedicated to doing just that.

“The bags are carefully designed to help local authorities with food waste recycling, supporting their community and resident engagement, and reducing plastic contamination in a targeted way.

“With Novamont, the Co-op has found a partner renowned for the quality of its Mater-Bi bioplastics, and expertise in providing certified compostable bags and support to many global retailers.”

compostable bags
The Co-operative Group’s headquarters in Manchester

Compostable bags part of wider Co-op plan

The lightweight compostable bags will be rolled out to more than 1,000 Co-op outlets and will be accepted as food-waste in those locations.

The company is currently in talks with multiple local councils concerning the implementation of the new bags, which are the same size, strength and price (5p) as their single-use plastic alternatives, in their areas.

This work represents one of the first stages in the UK supermarket’s aim to reduce its overall use of plastic packaging within five years, and to ban single-use, own-brand plastic products altogether.

Novamont’s chief executive Catia Bastioli said: “Novamont was built on the principles of the circular bioeconomy, the industrial regeneration of local areas and the production of bio-based and compostable materials alternative to traditional plastics from fossil sources.

“This Co-op initiative provides a notable application for major regions in the UK such as Greater Manchester to help support a system of organic waste collection and management where household food scraps become a resource again through industrial as well as home composting, as already implemented in cities such as Milan, Copenhagen, Geneva, New York, Paris and San Francisco.”