Co-op unveils 50% recycled plastic bottles for own-brand water

The Cop-op has announced that all of its own-brand water bottles will be switched to contain 50% recycled plastic, as part of a plan to "test the water" on how shoppers will react to a change in design.

The switch, set to take place later this year, will reduce Co-op’s plastic consumption by almost 350 tonnes annually. However, the new 50% recycled-content bottles will appear darker and cloudier than traditional bottles, and the retailer will gauge whether shoppers will be deterred by aesthetics.

Co-op’s environment manager Iain Ferguson said: “Suppliers are working hard to make the bottle clearer – and they already have – in the meantime, our bottles will wear this greyish colour which I see as a ‘badge of honour’ – we are part of the market for recycled products and are proud of that.”

The bottles will be 100% recyclable and sourced in the UK and form the latest in a line of commitments by the retailer and its 4.6 million active members to improve resource efficiency. Members have already backed an ambition by the retailer to ensure all product packaging is easily recyclable.

Co-op is also targeting black and dark-coloured plastic, which is harder to detect by sorting machines. Around 30,000 tonnes of the so-called “vanity” black plastic is added to the waste pile produced by plastics annually.

Earlier this year, Co-op became the first retailer to develop a fully-biodegradable paper tea bag - removing all uses of polypropylene plastic as a result.

As part of an exclusive edie interview, Ferguson claimed that a fiscal system that rewards recyclability and labelling would be key in helping retailers combat the rising levels of plastics pollution.

Since that interview, the UK Government has announced its intention to introduce a deposit return scheme for plastic containers, although questions remain as to how retailers and politicians will create the necessary infrastructure – and associated costs – to implement a nationwide scheme.

“We’re also very pleased that plans for the proposed deposit return scheme have been formally unveiled,” Ferguson added. “It’s a vitally important move in encouraging greater rates of recycling across the country and we welcome any measure which is designed to make recycling simpler and more accessible for consumers.

“We would like to see the same system applied across the whole of the UK to keep it simple for customers and business - the Co-op is aiming to make 100% of its own-brand packaging recyclable and set against this move, we can look forward to an increase in packaging sustainability and a reduction in plastic waste across the UK.”

Iain Ferguson at edie Live

Co-op's environment manager Iain Ferguson will appear on the Resource Efficiency theatre at edie Live to discuss the need for innovation and collaboration to catalyse change across the packaging supply chain to drive sustainability.

Running between 22 – 23 May 2018, edie Live plans to show delegates how they can achieve their Mission Possible. Through the lens of energy, resources, the built environment, mobility and business leadership an array of expert speakers will be on hand to inspire delegates to achieve a sustainable future. For more information click here.

Matt Mace


edie Live | packaging | Plastics | waste management


Waste & resource management

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