The Co-op has announced that it is to stop selling peat-based compost and begin rolling out specially-formulated, environmentally-friendly alternatives across its 1,100 UK stores and forecourts, in a bid to help "grow a culture of more sustainable gardening".
The retailer said its ban on sales of peat-based compost would help support delivery of its own climate targets, while also enabling gardeners to "play their part in pruning greenhouse gas emissions".
The Co-op halved its greenhouse gas emissions between 2006 and 2016, and has since adopted science-based climate goals in line with limiting global average temperature rise to 1.5C, including targets to reduce its emissions by a further 50 per cent and reduce its supply chain emissions by 11 per cent by 2025.
To help drive down its value chain emissions, the company said it was now working with horticulture brand Westland, which it said has invested £35m in developing a "specially-formulated" peat-free compost. Dubbed New Horizon, the compost will soon be on sale in 20 litre and 50 litre bags at all Co-op stores, the retailer said.
Martin Spencer, Co-op's buyer for home and leisure, said he wanted to make it easier for customers to make small changes in their everyday lives "which together add up to making a big difference to our environment".
"We are committed to reducing the environmental impact of our products and services, and looking for new and collaborative ways of working together with others to achieve those aims if we are to have a healthy, sustainable natural environment to pass on to future generations," he said.
Peatlands are a significant natural carbon store, and their destruction or degradation to clear space for agriculture, grouse moor management, or to extract peat for use a fuel or in gardening soil products, has long been criticised by climate campaigners, who this month kicked off a major new campaing calling for a ban on both peat burning and the sale of peat-based products in the UK.