The Co-op is to become the first UK retailer to sell all of its own brand water in recycled plastic bottles.

The use of 50% recycled plastic means that the bottles will appear cloudier than other bottles made with less, or no, recycled plastic.

However, the retailer is hopeful that shoppers will still choose to buy into the less aesthetically pleasing packaging.

The Co-op estimates that it could save almost 350 tonnes of plastic annually when it makes the change on all of its own brand still, sparkling and flavoured water later this year.

Reducing the environmental impact of products was at the core of the Co-op’s efforts, chief executive Jo Whitfield said.

Earlier this year it confirmed it was in favour of the creation of a deposit return scheme for single-use drinks containers, to increase the overall recycling of packaging.

The retailer is also developing a fully biodegradable paper tea bag for its 99 tea brand and plans to rid its aisles of so-called “vanity” black – and dark coloured - plastic by 2020.

This plastic is harder to detect by sorting machines due to its pigment and also contaminates the recycling stream, reducing the usefulness and value of the recovered material. The move is estimated to add at least 30,000 tonnes of plastic each year to waste. 

“We know that by working closely with our supply and waste-value chains we can find new ways of sourcing sustainable alternatives,” Whitfield added.

“Our customers expect us to respond to this challenge and help them make more ethical choices, and we’re dedicated to doing just that. Making these changes will also create new uses for recycled materials which in turn gives our customers greater confidence in recycling.”