The Co-op has announced a new commitment to only use 100% recyclable packaging for its own brand products.

The Co-op has banned black plastic packaging from all its products and by the summer of 2020 it will have phased out all non-recyclable plastics and replaced them with those that can be reused or easily recycled.

This follows, the Co-op’s unique Ethical Consumerism Report, which tracked ethical expenditure year by year over the past two decades, revealing how consumers are now buying with an ethical conscience.

The report, which focuses on various sectors of the economy, highlights that total ethical spending in the UK has increased almost four-fold in the past 20 years and outgrown all UK household expenditure which has grown by just over two per cent.

The average spend on ethical purchases per household has grown from £202 a year in 1999 to £1,278 per annum in 2018.

Jo Whitfield, Co-op Food CEO, said: “We should rightly celebrate the growth that we’ve seen in ethical markets in the UK over the last twenty years. Going forward, ethical consumerism will continue to play a pivotal role in the pursuit of more sustainable products, businesses and markets. However, now is not the time to rest on our laurels, it’s the time double down on our efforts.”

“That’s why we’ve brought forward our commitment on own-brand recyclable plastic by three years, why we’re committed to reducing unnecessary packaging and why our long-term vision is to be a carbon neutral business. From today, black plastic is banned and by the summer we’ll have pioneered a UK-wide recycling scheme for hard-to-recycle plastic film.”

The Co-op’s new move to switch to 100% recyclable own band packaging will lead to the largest-ever UK-wide scheme to recycle plastic film, which local councils do not presently collect for recycling.

The Co-op makes over 750 million pieces of plastic film each year and will make it easy to recycle by developing its own national collection programme for the material. After a spring store trial, the scheme will be rolled out nationally across the retailer’s store estate by the summer.

Photograph: The Co-op Group