Where: Manchester, England

What we are most proud of: We’re most proud of our ability at Co-op to have authentic and meaningful conversations with Co-op members about the issues that matter to them most. That way we can drive meaningful change together!

Our programme: In 2018, Co-op launched its Future of Food ambition – our recipe for a sustainable food future. The ambition has three chapters:

Chapter 1: Sourcing & creating with care

Chapter 2: Treating People Fairly

Chapter 3: Learning & celebrating together

The third chapter is focused on working together with our members to make a difference. To kick off the Future of Food plan, we looked at how we could work with our members on one of the issues they told us they felt most passionately about – taking action on plastics.

Through Co-op’s “Join In” programme, where members can sign up to share ideas, thoughts and shape Co-op’s direction, we ran a discussion project focused on recycling, reducing packaging and tackling waste. We wanted to hear members’ ideas and suggestions as to how we could do more in these areas and work with them to develop these ideas into tangible things that we can put into place as a food convenience retailer, which we could trial.

We started with a huge survey to members about what issues and frustrations they have with packaging and waste. Over three quarters (76%) told us that this issue is absolutely critical for society today, and members clearly believe that food retailers have a clear responsibility to tackle it, with almost half (49%) actually seeing food retailers as having the ‘main’ responsibility. Initially, 2,204 members told us what frustrates and concerns them about packaging & waste, following that we asked for ideas for things that we could do to make a difference – and received 700 ideas. We then worked with members and subject-matter experts within the business to work up and develop them into specific initiatives that we could champion, after members had voted on their favourite ideas. These ideas now feed into our Action on Plastics plan in Future of Food and the conversation continues. In 2019 we have also just kicked off a second waste project through “Join In” with members on Food Waste.

We believe that if we can provide authentic opportunities for our members to get involved in shaping how we do things, then this will create value for both the member and the Co-op.

Find out more: food.coop.co.uk