British co-operative group Co-op has pledged to remove all coloured milk bottle caps from its shelves in an effort to increase recyclability.

The retailer will offer clear caps on all skimmed, semi-skimmed and whole milk bottles in all its stores across the UK.

According to Co-op, clear bottle lids reduce colour contamination in the high-density polyethylene (HDPE) stream, thereby making bottles easier to recycle into food-grade packaging.

The retailer announced the commitment after testing the caps on semi-skimmed milk in more than 400 stores in August this year.

By next month, Co-op aims to have replaced all green caps with clear caps across all its stores.

In addition, the group will remove red skimmed milk caps and blue whole milk caps by early next year.

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Once all caps have been transitioned, Co-op hopes to eliminate more than 150t of coloured plastic from HDPE streams a year.

Co-op milk buyer Adam Williams said: “There are changes in store for how shoppers see milk bottle tops, with the new caps able (to be) more easily recycled and retained in the food sector, unlike their coloured counterparts.

“There is limited availability of food-grade recycled plastic, and that is a challenge. It is important that packaging is viewed as a valuable resource.

“We continue to work to explore new ways to make it easier to recycle and re-use these materials; it is a small change to an everyday issue that will collectively add up to make a big difference – a ‘clear’ solution that can reduce the dependency on virgin plastic in the supply chain.”

In June this year, Co-op announced it would introduce recyclable ice cube packaging manufactured by The Ice Co as a replacement for traditionally used plastic bags.

The retailer launched the packaging in partnership with The Ice Co at its stall at this year’s Glastonbury Festival.