Foodstuffs has announced that the Co-op will not be part of the limited soft plastics recycling relaunch. Instead, they are focusing on company efforts on the reduction of plastic packaging.

“Foodstuffs were supportive of the previous scheme when there was a credible pathway to recycling large volumes through REPLAS in Australia. The Packaging Forum has proposed a vastly reduced scheme in a handful of locations which, while well intended, will do very little to address the core problem – the prevalence of problematic packaging materials in the first instance,” said Mike Sammons, sustainability manager. “As a major retailer we accept our responsibility to drive the solutions going forward, and as such we are not sitting on our hands. “

Foodstuffs will invest in a range of initiatives to drive wasteful packaging and single-use plastic products out of the store and out of customers’ rubbish bins. These will include:

  • Removing 350 million single-use plastic bags from the checkout;
  • Increasing its commitment to reusables in produce and at the checkout (2+ million reusable bags given away in the last 12 months);
  • Banning the sale of products containing micro-plastics;
  • Banning the sale of plastic straws, plastic stemmed cotton buds and plastic applicator tampons;
  • Trialling home compostable alternatives in packaging, wraps and single-use products such as picnicware;
  • Working with suppliers to reformat their packaging;
  • Incorporating recycled plastics into new packaging;
  • Extending the trial of BYO containers in its supermarkets;
  • And, extending the rollout of ‘naked produce’ in the Food in the Nude initiative.

The co-operative has committed to the 2025 Plastic Packaging Declaration, which will see the business transitioning its in-store and private label packaging to being 100 percent reusable, compostable or recyclable.

“The recycling infrastructure needed and the required demand for goods made from post-consumer soft plastics to make the scheme viable and sustainable simply isn’t there right now. But, as soon as there are significant developments down the track which make for a more sustainable recycling solution for soft plastics – we’ll certainly reconsider our position.

“The Soft Plastics Recycling programme showed how keen Kiwis are to do the right thing – and we are working hard with suppliers to provide our customers with sustainable packaging solutions. We are in discussion with a number of exciting New Zealand innovators who are developing home-grown solutions to address Aotearoa’s needs. This helps drive the establishment of a truly circular economy,” added Sammons.