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Our environment

Reducing waste, using reusable energy, and supporting clothes recycling are just some ways we’re going green…

Looking After Our Environment 2

Science Based Targets

We have an environment group, which has representatives from across our businesses, reviewing our activities and identifying ways to lessen our environmental impact.

The group have now officially registered with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which means Lincolnshire Co-op is committed to putting in place targets to reduce emissions across our business.

Now the hard work really begins! Our Sustainability Advisor Kirstie Hunter, and the rest of the environment group, will develop a set of meaningful goals. These will include goals to reduce our direct emissions from activities such as gas and electricity use, vehicle use, and refrigeration, as well as reducing emissions within our supply chain

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) is internationally recognised, with more than 3,000 businesses signed up to reduce their emissions in line with climate science, including retailers like The Co-op Group, leisure brands like Adidas and financial organisations like Nationwide Building Society.

All the organisations’ targets and commitments are listed on the Initiative’s website too, so it’s really transparent process.

Soft plastic recycling

We offer soft plastic recycling in 87 of our food stores- you can find the full list here. This means you can dispose of materials such as bread bags or chocolate wrappers in an environmentally-friendly way.

Estimates from WRAP suggest that 760,000 tonnes of plastic film end up in UK waste streams every year, with half originating from households. While local councils offer recycling for hard plastics such as yogurt pots or milk bottles, soft plastics are not collected, so this scheme gives an accessible option for shoppers wanting to play their part.

It doesn’t matter about the brand or retailer, if it’s clean and scrunchy then it’s welcome in our bins! Find out more here.

Compostable plastic bags

We've removed single-use carrier bags from our stores and replaced them with our compostable bags. They're designed to biodegrade faster, which will reduce our impact on the environment. These carriers also make great liners for kitchen compost caddies, they're broken down alongside the organic material, meaning they can be deposited directly into your outside compost bin.

The proceeds from carrier bag sales will continue to go towards good causes through our Community Champions scheme.

Making packaging recyclable

We look at our packaging in a different way from many other retailers. We report how many products have easily recyclable packaging, whereas many other organisations base their recycling targets on weight. We believe weight doesn’t show the true picture – for example, glass, which is widely recycled, is heavier than many plastics.

Although packaging is sometimes needed to preserve and protect food, we want to keep plastics and other materials out of the oceans by making them easier to recycle. Our own-brand products are designed with this in mind. This includes initiates such as switching polystyrene pizza bases to cardboard and simplifying trays used for meat and fish so that they’re made from just one type of plastic.

Find out more about packaging on Co-op own brand products here.

Bring your own, reward for reusable cups

We have Costa Express self-serve machines in most of our food stores and filling stations.

We want to look after our environment, so to cut down on single-use cups waste and litter, we offer our members 25p extra dividend if they make the switch to a reusable cup. The reward is added onto their dividend card at the till.

Want to benefit? It’s free to become a member and takes just a few minutes online or instore.

All stores with Costa Express machines also offer a range of reusable cups for sale. Circular and Co reusable cups is the world’s first reusable cup made from recycled single-use coffee cups!

Big Co-op Clean

Each year we work in partnerships with local groups to arrange a series of local clean up events. With all clean ups, our colleagues join forces with local charities and members of the public to do a range of projects such as litter picks, cutting back hedges, building paths - showing that working together really is the way to go.

We normally do a series of clean ups in spring to tie in with the Great British Spring Clean and then throughout the year. If you’re involved in looking after a local area and would like our help then please email or call 01522 544632.

Cutting food waste

To cut food waste, we sell products that are past their best before date at reduced prices. We’re displaying signs on our shelves to help make these products easy to spot.

The best before date is given by the manufacturer to tell consumers how long a product is at its very best, but some products can be sold and used past this date. They are ‘ambient’ products – cans, tins, packets – and some fresh products like fruit and veg. Use by dates, on the other hand, state when a product must be consumed by. These are products such as meat, fish and dairy.

So far, this scheme has seen waste drop by 37%.

We're also partnering with FareShare Midlands on an exciting pilot project - a food redistribution hub in Lincoln.

Using green energy

All the electricity we use in our outlets is green – we’re powered by wind farms and hydro-electric stations. We also look at ways to reduce energy use wherever possible.

We use energy-efficient LED lighting in many of our buildings, and many of our outlets have a management system that regulates lighting and heating, and monitors energy use, flagging up issues if it increases unexpectedly.

We have doors on fridges that reduce energy consumption by around 20% in 77 of our food stores. We aim to eventually have them in all our stores, fitting them as we update older stores and including them as standard in any new cabinets.

We’ve also won a national award for trialling a new type of refrigeration in our Gibbet Nook Food Store and Filling Station. Traditionally, so-called HCFC gasses have been used for cooling, but this system uses carbon dioxide, which has a much lower impact on global warming.

In Scawby and Sincil Street, we’ve opened food stores with CO2 heat-reclamation systems. Not only does this system use more environmentally friendly gas, it reuses energy produced by the refrigeration process to heat the store.

Supporting electric vehicles

We’re working with BP Chargemaster to introduce electric car charging points at some of our outlets.

Charging points are now installed and live at the following stores: Old Leake, Albert Street in Newark, Long Bennington, Alford, Morton near Gainsborough, Dunholme, Coningsby, Winning Post Filling Station in Lincoln, Sturton by Stow and Caistor.

The charge points are rapid, meaning that an average electric car will get a 40-mile charge in around 20 minutes.

We hope that by making electric charging an option at our outlets, we’ll lead by example and encourage more businesses to do the same, so electric cars will become a more viable option for people living in our area.

Offering eco alternatives

More people are considering the environment when arranging their funerals, and our most affordable coffins are eco-friendly.

Called LifeArt Earthcare, they are made from recycled wood pulp, which uses 80% fewer trees than a traditional coffin. Inside each panel is a honeycomb structure that reduces the material used while being incredibly strong. Each coffin releases around 97% fewer harmful emissions when cremated, too.

Recycling old clothes

Clothing and textiles are the UK’s fastest growing household waste stream with hundreds of thousands of tonnes going to landfill each year.

We have clothing recycling banks on 48 of our sites where people can drop off their bags full of donations. They’re provided by the Salvation Army Trading Company Ltd – the trading arm of The Salvation Army.

Batteries are included!

Did you know we’ve got battery collection points in all our food stores?

Lincolnshire County Council has undertaken an awareness campaign about battery recycling this summer and has been signposting people to our collection points, and those are Household Waste Recycling Centre.

As well as being better for the environment, making sure batteries are disposed of properly is a safety issue too as putting them in normal general waste or recycling bins is a huge fire risk for bin lorries and recycling centres.

So, store up your used batteries and take them to your local food store next time you’re shopping.

Hybrid vehicles

The transport our funeral team uses needs to be top-of-the-range so we can give families the reassurance of a high-quality experience.

We’re also always looking to lessen our environmental impact so have introduced four hybrid vehicles to our fleet – two limousines and two hearses.

The emissions are around a quarter of what traditional vehicles produce. They also offer another benefit as in electric mode, they’re quieter, fitting for arriving at a ceremony venue for example.

Listening to you

Interested in these issues? We hold environment forums with our members each year and organise community volunteering events such as the Big Co-op Clean. Keep an eye out on our events pages for future activities or call 01522 544632.


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