A lot less waste, bags more for your community! Together we will REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE and REINVEST

Since 2006 we have been actively reducing the number of single use carrier bags we give away through a number of proactive initiatives to help protect the environment, reduce carrier bag litter and conserve vital resources. Our aim is to help create a zero waste society.

With the help of customers and our store colleagues we have reduced single use carrier bag numbers nationwide by 92% compared with 2006.

We removed carrier bags from the front of our checkouts and kiosks and at the same time made our reusable and recyclable bags easier for customers to find.

We introduced a range of reusable bags for our customers to use as alternatives to single use bags.

We created training for our colleagues to help them understand why it is better to encourage the use of reusable bags, whilst ensuring the needs of our customers are met.

Compostable bag


  • Price, 5p (does incur the legal charge).
  • Currently available only in Co-op Food stores in English and Scottish Local Authority/Council areas that accept food waste collections. Made from compostable polymer and starch.
  • Designed-in second use as a food waste caddy liner or in home composting bins.

Single use carrier bags


  • Incur a 5p legal charge (levy) in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
  • Also sold at 5p each in stores on the Isle of Man.
  • Made from 100% PE (polyethylene).
  • Recycle in bins at selected larger Co-op Food stores.
  • Ideally reuse as many times as possible as shown on the bag design itself before disposal.
  • No longer stocked in stores that sell compostable carrier bags.

Bag for life


  • Price, 10p in all regions of the UK except Northern Ireland (15p).
  • This bag incurs a legal charge of 5p as of 19th January 2015 in Northern Ireland. The price there is now 15p as a result of the legal charge.
  • Made from 80% recycled PE (polyethylene).
  • Reuse 5 times to improve on the environmental impact of a single use bag but continue reusing until it's worn out. Then bring it back for a free replacement. We’ll recycle it when you bring it back.

Fold away bag


  • Price £1 Available in two colours.
  • Ideal for keeping in handbags and pockets, perfect for a convenience shopping trip.
  • Made from 100% recycled PET (recycled bottles).
  • Only reuse 40 times to improve on the environmental impact of a single use bag, but continue to reuse it until it’s worn out.
  • Can be recycled at end of life at textile recycling banks managed by The Salvation Army (find your local recycling bank here). PET recyclate can be used to make fleeces.

Large shopper


  • Price £1. Attractive on message design, perfect for everyday use.
  • Made from 100% recycled PP (polypropylene).
  • Only reuse 52 times to improve on the environmental impact of a single use bag.
  • Can be recycled at end of life at textile recycling banks managed by The Salvation Army (find your local recycling bank here).

Small shopper


  • Price £1 Attractive on message design, perfect for everyday use. Can be used as a bottle bag as well as a small shopping bag.
  • Only reuse 52 times to improve on the environmental impact of a single use bag.
  • Made from 100% recycled PP (polypropylene). Can be recycled at end of life at textile recycling banks managed by The Salvation Army (find your local recycling bank here).

We’re making our new re-usable carrier bags even more environmentally friendly.

For the past few years our store colleagues have been carefully separating the polythene from the packaging that keeps our products safe in transit, which has been reused to make our new bags for life.

Now at least 80% of each bag is made with the recycled plastic.

We know that many of our customers need to buy a bag when they don’t have a reusable bag with them. We also know that just having 10p Bags for Life won’t work for all our customers; it could make some increase their plastic footprint. That’s why we introduced our compostable carrier bags, so that customers could buy a carrier bag with a proper second use that will actually help to reduce their plastic footprint and help local councils with their food waste collections. Everybody wins.

As a member, every time you shop at Co-op, 1% of what you spend on selected own-brand products and services goes to the Local Community Fund.

The money raised by all members in your community, together with money from 5p shopping bag sales, helps to fund local projects in the area where you live.

Since September 2016 we’ve raised more than £20 million for our local communities

You can choose which cause you want your own 1% to go to.

Any money raised by members who don’t select a cause is added to the money raised from shopping bag sales and shared equally between the cases in their local area.

We choose new causes every 12 months.

Single use carrier bags sold 2017-2018 financial year (£k)

-England*WalesN.IScotlandIsle of Man
Quantity120,631,0826,827,6721,476,62719,960,758228
Turnover£6,031£341£74£998£0.011
VAT£976£55£12£162£0.002
Net Sales£2,611£286£62£836£0.010

*Introduced part way through financial year

Single use carrier – previous years' Net Sales (£k)

YearEnglandWalesN.IScotlandIsle of Man
2011-12NA£101NANANA
2012-13NA£241NANANA
2013-14NA£239£47NANA
2014-15NA£230£51£451NA
2015-16£2,611£235£62£873NA
2016-17£5,275£267£65£885NA

Compostable carriers - sales volumes

YearEnglandWalesN.IScotlandIsle of Man
2016-172,510,874NANA58,373NA
2017-182,078,069NANA33,388NA

Total donations to ‘community’ to date (£k)

EnglandWalesN.IScotlandI.O.M
NA£674£207 (inc.VAT)£767NA

The above figures do not include actual funds generated from our re-usable bag range which will also be donated to good causes, these figures will be available from September 2016.

Please find below details of the carrier bag levy within each UK nation and when each was introduced. To support the levy and reduction of single use carrier bags, we’ve developed a new range of reusable bags perfect for a convenience shopping trip as outlined above. The range of reusable bags rolled out across the UK from March 2015.

England

  • 5p introduced in Oct 2015 for single use carrier bags.
  • We donate the money from single-use carrier bag sales to community projects across the UK.
  • We introduced a range of longer life reusable bags on 18th March 2015

We replaced single-use carrier bags with compostable carrier bags to 837 stores where the local council accepts the bags for food waste collections.

Scotland

  • 5p introduced in Oct 2014 for single use carrier bags.

  • We donate the money from the single-use carrier bags sales to community projects in line with Scottish Parliament legislation.

  • We replaced single-use carrier bags with compostable carrier bags to 232 stores where the local council accepts the bags for food waste collections.

  • Our trial project, Co-op Local Fund, gave £766,990 of funding to local causes (everything from day care centres to schools and scout groups) in Scotland in January 2016.

Northern Ireland

  • 5p introduced in April 2013 for single use carrier bags.

  • All money raised from the legal charge in our stores is sent to the Northern Ireland exchequer who distributes the money to good causes of their choice.

  • In Jan 2015 a legal charge was introduced on all bags under 20p to try and encourage the use of longer life reusable bags. Our bag for life now costs 15p, including the legal charge.

Isle of Man

  • In 2018, we started charging 5p for single-use carrier bags.

  • In Jan 2015 we introduced the range of longer life reusable bags.

  • We donate the money from our single-use carrier bags to community projects across the Isle of Man.

Wales

  • 5p introduced in April 2011 for single use carrier bags.

  • We donate the money from our resuable bag range to community projects across Wales.

  • Profits from the legal charge supported Welsh Wildlife Heroes in partnership with Wildlife Trusts Wales 2013 - 2017.