Co-op sets out “radical” ethical plan and membership target

Co-op has unveiled its ethical plan, which outlines a set of joined up goals to drive its ethical and co-operative operations across all the business groups, including food, banking, pharmacy, travel and funeral care.


The group plans to launch an advertising campaign to demonstrate the breadth of its ethical business plan and encourage customers to join The Co-operative movement.

The Co-op says its ethical plan pledges the “toughest” carbon reduction targets of any major business, the “most radical” Fairtrade conversion programme and what it claims are the world’s first ethical insurance products.

It includes 47 distinct targets that cover areas including the environment, ethical finance, global poverty, animal welfare, social fairness health and community enterprise.

The Co-op plans to go “beyond Fairtrade” and pledges to source 90% of its primary commodities from the developing world through Fairtrade by 2013 under the strapline of” If it can be Fairtrade, it will be Fairtrade”.

It also aims to create 200 Co-operative Schools by 2013 in a bid to “spearhead a cultural shift in youth perception and opportunity” it will invest £30m in a programme to support an Apprenticeship Academy and a Green Schools programme.

Part of the Co-op’s strategy is to recruit new members and it aims to achieve a threefold increase in membership from 6 million to 20 million by 2020.

The Co-op is setting out a three year rolling programme to achieve the targets and will report on its progress annually.

Group CEO Peter Marks says: “Our ambition is to build a better society and this plan will stimulate and reinforce the unique benefit of the consumer co-operative model.

“We are seeking to show that there is another way. The plc model is not the only game in town. It is possible for business to embrace the efficiencies of the market economy and also the need for robust legislation to ensure that progress is sustainable and just.

The Co-op’s ethical plan includes:

Democratic control and reward

  • Dividend scheme to be amended to reward ethical consumerism

Ethical Finance

  • The Introduction of the world’s first ethically screened general insurance products
  • Double financial support for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects from £400 million to £1 billion by 2013

Protecting the environment

  • Increasing its carbon emission reduction target to 35% by 2017
  • Adding a further 10% to the 15% packaging weight reductions already achieved
  • Increase carrier bag reduction target to 75% by 2013
  • The construction by 2012 of a head office that will set new standards in sustainable design, construction and operation in the UK

Building a fairer and better society

  • Investing £11m in co-operative enterprise by 2013
  • Boosting existing community investment by £5m a year
  • Invest £30m in an Apprenticeship Academy and Green Schools programme
  • Create 200 Co-operative Schools by 2013

Tackling Global Poverty

  • The Co-operative will develop a unique range of projects and initiatives that benefit producers and move “beyond Fairtrade”

Responsible retailing

  • Healthier Choice products will be no more expensive than standard equivalent lines and the nutritional content of Simply Value products will be at least as good as standard equivalent lines

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