The debrief: How compostable bags are helping a retailer cut its plastics use

Co-op is offering compostable carrier bags at 1,000 stores, but barriers may prevent wider take-up. Conor McGlone visits the Italian facility that supplies the new biodegradable bags to the retailer

Novamont’s biopolymer factory in Italy

Co-op’s biodigradable bags are made at Novamont’s biopolymer factory in Italy

Supermarket chain Co-op announced in October that it would offer new compostable carrier bags at more than 1,000 of its stores. Customers can use the bags to carry their shopping home and then reuse them as food-waste caddy liners, according to the firm. The bags will be the same size, strength and price as their traditional 5p single-use plastic counterparts. But unlike standard plastic carrier bags, which can take hundreds of years to decompose, the Co-op’s compostable bags will take less than 18 months to break down.

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