The bags, which can be reused as food waste caddy liners, will be available in around 400 stores covering 81 local authority areas with food recycling schemes which require householders to use compost bags of food waste.

The company says that 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.

It has already trialled the new bags in selected regions, and the pilots have been deemed a success. At just 6p each they work out at around half the price of food waste caddy liners bought on a roll.

According to the Co-operative food’s environment manager, Iain Ferguson, 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,” he commented.

The retailer is working hard to reduce the number of single-use bags given out in stores – last year it used 64% 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.

The Co-operative also believes that the new compostable carrier bags could play a vital role in encouraging more people to recycle food waste.

“We are the only major food retailer in the UK to offer carrier bags which are also compostable and carry the seedling logo. Our aim is to enable our customers to recycle more of the products they buy from us,” he said.

Maxine Perella

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