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Plastic free produce trial FAQs

Plastic free produce trial FAQs

The Channel Islands Co-operative Society is trialling plastic-free local produce in Grand Marché St Helier and St Peter in Jersey and St Sampson and St Martin in Guernsey.

Where it is feasible, we will ensure that we have a loose option for all local produce for a trial period.

We will be monitoring the outcomes of this in terms of customer feedback, as well as quantitative measures such as in-store wastage, to ensure this is a sustainable scheme.

Why is this only in Grand Marchés?

We’re setting this up as a trial initially. We have chosen our Grand Marché stores, as these are our busiest and largest stores where we will be able to collect the most data.

This is to ensure that the scheme is sustainable and doesn’t simply move the problem somewhere else – for example by increasing food waste in store.

If it’s successful we will look at how we can provide the same service in our smaller stores, without compromising on convenience for our customers, and space in the store.

Pre-packed veg is often cheaper, will this mean I have to spend more money on my fruit and veg now?

No. We recognise that this does happen on some of our fresh produce lines. For this reason, we have secured a lower price on loose produce.

Why is some of your fresh produce still wrapped?

This trial is only on local fruit and veg, where we have more direct relationships with our suppliers. We also recognise that local produce is not traveling the same distance as other produce lines so we can reduce packaging without compromising on quality.

On our local produce, some (such as strawberries) will remain wrapped. This is to ensure the produce arrives in the best possible condition and remains in good condition all the way to your home.

Our Co-op own brand fruit and veg comes through the Co-op buying group in the UK. Where there is currently a loose alternative available we will be making the switch.

We need to be mindful that plastic packaging performs a vital function in protecting fresh produce through the supply chain and delivering it in the best possible condition to customers. It also helps customers to reduce their food waste, for example research from WRAP shows that storing fresh produce in its plastic packaging in the fridge can extend the shelf life by several days.

Aren’t you still damaging the environment if you’re still providing single-use plastic produce bags?

We recognise that single-use plastic produce bags can be damaging to the environment if not disposed of correctly.

We are currently in the process of bringing a sustainable and re-usable produce bag into stores that will be available for purchase. Due to supplier lead times this is not available yet, however we will let our members know as soon as it arrives in store.

In the meantime, we encourage our customers to reuse their produce bags where it is safe and hygienic to do so, and dispose of these responsibly with household waste at the end of the bag’s usable life.

Why aren’t paper produce bags or biodegradable produce bags available?

We have considered a number of alternatives to single-use plastic produce bags, including paper, biodegradable, and reusable options.

Unfortunately, our research has shown that the production of paper bags is not as environmentally friendly as we would have hoped.

We have also looked into biodegradable options, however, many of these cannot be composted at home, and there are currently no commercial facilities on the island for this.

We believe that providing a reusable alternative is most sustainable option at this stage.

We are currently in the process of bringing a sustainable and re-usable produce bag into stores that will be available for purchase. Due to supplier lead times this is not available yet, however we will let our members know as soon as it arrives in store.

Are there plans to make this permanent and roll it out to other stores?

If the trial is successful and we are confident that it is sustainable, we will look to roll out to other stores in both islands where it is practical to do so.

What about the other plastic packaging in your stores – what are you doing about that?

Our plastics working group meets regularly to discuss the issue of single-use plastics in our stores. There are currently a number of initiatives in development, such as an audit with our local packaging supplier. We will update members on developments as they happen.

Our priority is to make all our own-brand packaging easy to recycle and we’re also working towards getting rid of all our single-use own-brand plastic products and packaging, including the plastic you didn’t know was there.

You can read about what we’ve done and what we’re doing locally and with Co-op group in the UK on our plastics webpage.

What will happen in the winter when there is less local produce available?

During winter it is true that there is less local produce available to buy than in the summer months. Where local produce is not available, our Co-op own brand fruit and veg comes through the Co-op buying group in the UK.

Where an alternative to pre-packed produce is available, we will switch to this.

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