July 13, 2022

Co-op, the British supermarket chain, is introducing a new product labelling system that advise shoppers which dairy products can be put in the freezer after new research revealed more than £150 million worth of milk is wasted each year in the United Kingdom alone.

Co-op is introducing a ‘freeze me’ message to its own brand milk products in a bid to cut down on 70,000 tonnes of milk wasted per annum in the United Kingdom.

More than £150 million worth of milk is wasted each year, according to figures from the UK’s leadings sustainability experts WRAP. A total 90 per cent of this comes from milk wasted in the home, the report adds.

Co-op bosses decided to add new labels to selected products including milk advising customers to freeze it rather than throw it away provided it is before its sell by date. The aim is not only to reduce waste but will help households amid rising inflation and the cost of living.

The on-pack message is being added to the retailer’s own brand milk products and aims to prevent waste
It will read: “Don’t waste me, freeze me, in a suitable, clean container, then defrost in the fridge, use within 24 hours.”

Co-op supermarket advises which milk products can be frozen
Co-op supermarket advises customers which milk products can be frozen. Credit: Kenny Eliason / Unsplash

A recent survey showed that two-thirds (66%) of UK adults do not freeze milk at home. Some 31% did not know you can freeze milk while 34% of respondents said that now they do know, they will start freezing it. 

The Co-op explained that milk is best within one month of freezing and for larger bottles it is best to decant them into a container.

When it is ready to be used, defrost in the fridge to thaw fully and then use the defrosted milk within 24 hours, the retailer added.

Catherine Dishington, environment and sustainability manager at Co-op, said: “We’re committed in reducing our impact on the planet and we’re trying to help our customer and members make small changes that collectively, can make an impact.

“Freezing food is one of the easiest ways to make the most out of your weekly shop and prevent food wastage but not everyone knows that it’s perfectly safe to freeze milk. We hope that by having this message on pack it will not only save customers some money, it should also help them to throw away less.” 

The new messaging will appear across all Co-op own brand milk products from September 2022.

Separate research by the Big Plastic Count shows almost 100 billion plastic items are discarded by UK households every year.

Almost 100,000 households participated in the survey and counted every piece of disposable packaging they used over the course of one week in May. This represented around a quarter of a million people, throwing away an average of 66 pieces of packaging every week, 83 per cent of which was food and drink packaging.

Estelle Herszenhorn, strategic technical manager at WRAP, said: “It is fantastic to see Co-op, one of WRAP’s Courtauld 2030 signatories, adopting our best practice guidance by introducing freezing messaging to their own brand milk.

“Milk is one of the most wasted food products in the UK so this is a welcome move from the Co-op, demonstrating their commitment to helping people waste less. We encourage people to check out the Love Food Hate Waste website for more ways to make the most of the food you buy, save money and fight climate change.” 

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