National UK retailer Co-op has begun using compostable carrier bags across England and Scotland as part of its endeavour to reduce single-use plastic.

Compostable carriers bag will retail for 5p rather than the current 10p charged for non-compostable bags. Co-op encourages customers to re-use all its bags, with these new bags also being suitable for use as bin liners. If re-used as the latter, the bag can be turned into peat-free compost along with household food waste.

12 minutes to a millenium

On average we use a carrier bag for just twelve minutes, after that it’s discarded. Once discarded, plastic bags can remain in the environment for 1,000 years before they decompose! Material that claims to be compostable has to break down within 12 weeks under specified conditions.

Co-op’s environmental manager Iain Ferguson said: “Reducing environmental impacts is, and always has been, at the core of Co-op’s efforts. Reducing the environmental impact of our products and eliminating single-use plastic is a priority. We welcome measures designed to make recycling simpler and more accessible.”

Co-op also pledged to make all its own-brand packaging become easy to recycle by 2023 and to use a minimum of 50% recycled plastic in bottles, pots, trays and punnets by 2021.