Our Co-op difference

Read about the changes Chelmsford Star Co-operative has undertaken to impact positively on you and your community.


Cotton Buds
We replaced plastic stems on our cotton buds with rolled paper in 2006

British sourcing
We’re backing British farmers, 100%! All of our fresh meat is now sourced from British farms. By supporting British Farmers, you’re helping communities across the whole of the UK. So, whether you’re popping in for a sandwich or a beef joint for Sunday lunch, every delicious bite is making a difference.

The Co-op’s history of support for Fairtade has seen us tirelessly promote a better way of doing business. Fairtrade guarantees a better deal for the world’s most disadvantaged growers and small-scale producers, ensuring they receive payment that always covers the cost of sustainable production and an additional premium to support producer development programs.

We’re the UK’s largest convenience seller of fairtrade products and have delivered many ‘firsts’ over the years, from being the first retailer to stock Fairtrade products in all stores in 1998, to sourcing major Fairtrade commodites as ingredients across our entire own-brand range 20 years later.

Pizza packaging
We’ve switched pizza packaging to cardboard, saving 200 tones of poly-board going to landfill each year.

Palm oil
What is palm oil?
Palm oil is a vegetable oil which has been used for millennia, dating back to the Egyptians. Originally found in Ghana, it is the most widely used oil in the world. It grows best around the band of the equator with Indonesia and Malaysia producing the most.

The oil comes from the fruit of the palm tree which has a red skin, soft orange flesh and a slightly harder seed, known as the kernel. Both the seed and the flesh can be milled and refined to produce oils.

Unlike sunflower oil and rapeseed oil, palm oil is hard at room temperature meaning it has a unique property when used in food and household products. It also has a higher yield than other oils from the same amount of land, meaning you can grow much more oil in less space.

Why does is need to be sourced responsibly?
As palm oil has become increasingly popular globally, demand has encouraged more farmers to plant palm trees to produce the oil. To produce more oil and earn an income, farmers turn over land which was uncultivated to produce agricultural land.

Due to these concerns, the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was founded in 2004 as a not for profit organisation. They set the environmental and social standards for sustainably sourcing palm oil. Some groups see this as controversial as it includes all elements of the palm oil industry – including charities, oil palm producers, processors of traders, consumer good manufacturers, retailers and banks/investors. However, this means that they are able to work holistically to make changes.

How does the Co-op source responsibly?
At the Co-op we believe that the key to sustainable sourcing is being proactive in our work and being part of the solution.

If other oils were produced on the same scale they would take more space to do so. Therefore, ensuring palm oil production is sustainable is the best route for lowering the environmental impact. We have supported RSPO since they were founded and via the Retailer Palm Oil Group we now have a representative on the RSPO Board of Governors.

Paper products
We were the first food retailer to graduate from the WWF’s Global Forest and Trade Network in the UK (GFTN-UK), in recognition of us having over 95% of our own-brand paper products come from sustainable sources. This has brought us even closer to our long-term aim or sourcing all our wood and paper products from well-managed forests that have been certified to credible standards.

Responsibly-sourced seafood
At Co-op, we want to make sure we are sourcing our fish from healthy fish stocks and healthy oceans into the future.

Since 2008, we have ensured we have a rigorous policy to ensure Co-op fish is responsibly sourced and has minimal impact on the marine environment. This is done using the latest scientific advice from industry and NGOs.

Tea bags
We’re busy brewing up a fully biodegradable paper tea bag, and we’re the first retailer to find a solution to the problem of plastic waste caused by our favourite beverage.

We’ve developed a version of our own brand 99 tea without polypropylene, which is an industry-wide method used to enable teabags to hold their shape. This move could save nine tonnes of plastic every year from being dumped into household rubbish and compost collections, as it is fully compostable and can be placed in food waste collections.

Pork products
We are the first UK-Wide retailer to switch to 100% Outdoor Bred Pork. From July all of our own-brand fresh pork, bacon, sausage, gammon and ham will be sourced from 100% outdoor-bred pigs on RSPCA Assured farms. Our Co-op Pork Farming Group doesn’t only share our commitment to high standards of animal welfare but complies with RSPCA assured welfare standards which covers every aspect of the pig’s lives including feed and water, how they’re manage, health care and transport. The standards are designed to ensure animals have everything they need for a better quality of life

We’ve long known that animal welfare is a top priority for our customers and members. Hence the Co-op is one of the few UK retailers that only sells shell eggs from free-range or organic hens, and the same goes for ingredient eggs used in our own-brand products. This benefits not only our hens, who can express their natural behaviour, but also our customers who can support consistently higher welfare standards irrespective of their budget.

Cruelty-free toiletries
At the Co-op we believe in a better way of doing business. That’s why none of our own brand toiletries or household products are tested on animals…

Cleaning might not always get us jumping for joy, but at least when you clean with Co-op own brand household products this spring, you can be sure they’re cruelty-free. We believe that testing toiletries, cosmetics or household products (or the ingredients they contain) on animals is inhumane and unnecessary – and we know this is a subject that’s close to our customers’ and members’ hearts too.

Carrier bags
We abolished all single-use carrier bags in 2015, and our Bags for Life are made of things like recycled plastic bottles. We’re working with suppliers to drastically reduce plastic packaging by 2020.