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Food unwrapped in Co-op eco drive

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JERSEY’S longest-running supermarket chain is launching a major new drive to reduce the amount of single-use plastic packaging on its products.

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From today, numerous local fruit and vegetable products in the Channel Islands Co-operative Society’s two Grand Marché stores in Jersey will be sold unwrapped.

Mark Cox (50), the chief operating officer of the Channel Island’s Co-operative Society, said this latest initiative – which will also come into force in its Grand Marché shops in Guernsey – was happening in line with the wishes of its membership.

‘We are running a trial in our Grand Marché stores, selling local produce unwrapped wherever possible,’ he said. ‘Our members have been telling us they want to see action in this area.

‘We’ve got 26 different fruit and vegetable produce lines that we’re removing packaging from, predominantly local lines, in an effort to give consumers that choice of buying more unwrapped product with no plastic on.’

He said unpackaged local products would include more produce ‘like baking potatoes, tomatoes, courgettes and leaks’.

‘Plastic has become a very emotive topic for consumers so we’ve been looking at, where we can, removing and reducing single-use plastic from the supply chain,’ he said.

‘It’s clearly a lot easier to do from a local perspective because that product is fresher and it’s not travelling the same distances.

‘Hopefully this initiative will reduce the amount of single-use plastic used in the Island and help inform people about the importance of local products – and why that’s beneficial from an economic point of view.’

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He said the Co-op, which is celebrating its 100th year operating in Jersey, would ‘look to understand the results of this trial in our larger stores – and if we can replicate elements into our locale stores, we will’.

He added: ‘We’ve also got to get the balance right; we are responsible retailers and there is still a use for plastic in the supply chain. We have to be cautious that we don’t take too much of that plastic away and it ends up increasing food waste.’

The Co-op was one of the first supermarkets in the Channel Islands that began charging for single-use carrier bags, in 2008 – and it has since removed single-use carriers altogether in favour of bags for life.

Mr Cox said more improvements were on the way.

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‘We’ve got some new reusable bags for life coming soon made out of recycled plastic bottles and once they’ve come to the end of their life, they will be able to be recycled back through clothing banks,’ he explained.

‘We’ve already taken out plastic that you wouldn’t even know was there. Things like our own-brand tea bags have no plastic in them and our own-brand cotton wool buds are now made of paper – there’s no plastic tube in the middle of them. Also, we took polystyrene out of our own-brand pizza packaging.’

He said 70% of the Co-op’s own-brand packaging was recyclable, and added: ‘By 2023, everything within our supply chain will be.’

David Edbrooke

By David Edbrooke
Journalist

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