30 April 2021 by Joshua Doherty

Initiatives launched to remove 2,400 tonnes of plastic

Supermarket chains Sainsbury’s and the Co-operative have both announced initiatives which will removing more than 1,000 tonnes of plastic from use. But, the Co-op is to replace its bag with ‘compostable’ bags, which themselves remain a matter of discussion among plastic recyclers.

And, on the manufacturing side,  Hellman’s is the latest company to announce a switch to 100% recycled content in its mayonnaise  bottles by the end of 2022. This will save approximately 1,480 tonnes of virgin plastic every year, according to the company which is owned by Unilever.


The Co-operative announced today it will be removing plastic bags for life from sale in all 2,600 stores.

Co-op will replace its plastic carriers with ‘compostable’ bags

Co-op’s approach involves removing bags for life from sale, rolling out a compostable bags for 10p and setting the price of its lowest cost reusable bag at 50p.

The company claimed that the low-cost, reusable bag has become the new single-use carrier.

As part of this move, and ahead of the new carrier bag levy increase coming in to place at the end of April, the convenience retailer will also roll out compostable carriers to all stores to ensure that customers are able to “purchase a low-cost, low impact alternative bag with a sustainable second use”.

Co-op’s initiative will remove 29.5 million bags for life, weighing around 870 tonnes of plastic, from sale each year.

Jo Whitfield, chief executive of Co-op Food, said: “Increased use of Bags for Life has led to a sharp rise in plastic use. With over 1.5 billion bags sold each year by retailers, this remains a massive issue for our industry as many shoppers are regularly buying so called ‘Bags for Life’ to use just once and it’s leading to major hike in the amount of plastic being produced.

“To help tackle plastic pollution and the use of unnecessary plastic, we will be ceasing the sale of Bags for Life when current stocks are exhausted. We’re also ensuring all of our members and customers have access to a low price point option that’s more environmentally friendly, alongside more durable bags at a higher price point”.


Sainsbury’s announced yesterday (29 April) it is working with the Prevented Ocean Plastic programme to turn plastic collected from the coast into packaging for its strawberry and fresh fish ranges.

Working closely with its packaging supplier Sharpak, the supermarket chain said 34% of Sainsbury’s fish and 80% of Berry Garden punnets of strawberries will be sold in packaging rescued from coastal areas.

“Using Prevented Ocean Plastic is one change we’re making to our supply chain to help us remove, reduce, recycle and reuse plastic”

Claire Hughes, Sainsbury’s

This will remove around 297 tonnes of plastic, the supermarket said.

Claire Hughes, director of product, packaging and innovation at Sainsbury’s, said: “Using Prevented Ocean Plastic is one change we’re making to our supply chain to help us remove, reduce, recycle and reuse plastic.

“Not only will it have a positive environmental impact by preventing plastic from polluting the ocean, but it will also have an important social impact by allowing our customers to make sustainable choices and support overseas coastal communities at risk of ocean plastic pollution.”


Hellmann’s, one of Unilever’s largest food brands in the UK, has begun moving its full ‘squeezy’ range in the UK to bottles made with 100% post-consumer recycled PET plastic.

Nearly half of the range (40%) has moved to the recycled plastic material already

The new packaging has been made using the “highest quality food-grade standard recycled plastic and will feature a ‘New 100% Recycled Bottle’ logo on the front of pack,” the company said.

Nearly half of the range (40%) has moved to the recycled plastic material already and reached shelves this month, with plans for the full range to have switched by the end of 2022.

Andre Burger, vice president of foods and refreshment for Unilever UK & Ireland commented:  “With our new 100% recycled plastic bottles, which are also fully recyclable, we’re providing shoppers with an accessible and simple way to help make their households and mealtimes more sustainable – whilst continuing to enjoy the products they love.

“Our Hellmann’s bottles are our first food brand in the UK to use 100% post-consumer recycled plastic, and whilst making the switch has not been without it’s challenges, these learnings will enable us to accelerate the move of other Unilever food brands to using more recycled plastic too.”


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