20 August 2019 by Joshua Doherty

Co-op calls for quicker council action on food waste

Supermarket chain, the Co-op, has urged English local authorities to speed up the roll-out of food waste collections and to accept compostable bags as part of the service.

In a statement issued on Saturday, August 17, the Co-op said it is writing to every local authority in England that doesn’t collect food waste to call for the introduction of the service. Weekly food waste collection is likely to be among the requirements for English councils under the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy from 2023.

The Co-op has called for local authorities to accept compostable bags, like those handed out in around 1,400 of its stores, as part of kerbside food waste collections

The retailer pointed to WRAP statistics suggesting that 156 English councils (around 48%) currently do not have a kerbside food waste collection. Co-op will also be urging councils to accept compostable carrier bags – as issued by the retailer in many of its stores – in their food waste kerbside collection services.

Compostable bags

The Co-op said that it could end the distribution of single-use plastic bags if local authorities “began food waste collections from homes sooner” and permitted the use of compostable carrier bags as food waste bin liners. In 2018, the retailer announced its plans to roll-out single use compostable carrier bags to almost 1,400 of its food stores (see letsrecycle.com story).

It said at the time that the bags could also be used as a food waste caddy liners once taken home, so rolled out the bags where this service was offered, and claimed to be the first national supermarket to make compostable bags available.

“The Co-op has committed to make the compostable carriers widely available through its wholesale operation if local authorities and the Government commit to accepting the technology in food waste collections, saving more than 5 million plastic bags a month from ending up in landfill,” a statement from the group said.

It added that despite proposals being developed by the government will see all homes receiving weekly food waste collections by 2023, “twice as much of the total food wasted in the UK a year” could be recycled into energy and fertiliser, if this were to be introduced quicker.

“We are writing to local authorities to encourage universal kerbside food waste collections and acceptance of compostable bags, sooner than 2023”.

Michael Fletcher, chief commercial officer, Co-op

Commenting on the campaign, Michael Fletcher, chief commerical officer at the Co-op said: “How we do business really matters. The world is experiencing a climate crisis and we need to work together to avoid it. Accelerating action is the only way to mitigate and reduce impacts on our natural world, and to ensure stable food supply chains in the future.

“We are committed in helping our members and customers to make environmentally friendly choices and reducing the environmental impact of products is and always has been at the core of Co-op. That’s why we are writing to local authorities to encourage universal kerbside food waste collections and acceptance of compostable bags, sooner than 2023.”

Organic waste

Despite support from the Co-op, compostable bags used as food liners are not wholly endorsed by the anaerobic digestion (AD) sector – with some reporting that they have had to be sent for energy recovery or landfill.


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