The Co-op has launched what it claims are Britain's "first 100% degradable" plastic bread wrappers following a recent survey in which 60% of the 29,500 people questioned said retailers should use only degradable or biodegradable materials.

Supplied by Parkside Performance Films, the degradable bread bags were co-developed with VBM, part of BPI, and are said to be as strong and safe as standard bread wrappers, but will fully degrade to carbon dioxide, water and organic residue after approximately four years. In contrast, the Co-op says, “standard” plastic bread bags take “100 years or more” to degrade.

The retailer’s figures suggest some 1.67bn bread bags are produced in the UK ever year and, with each bag weighing an average of 6g, this generates 10,521 tonnes of waste.