Carbon Innovation Fund is a total £3m partnership, part-funded through the sale of compostable carrier bags in Co-op stores 

A rain and fog harvesting project in the Galapagos and five new net-zero farms are just two partners supported with grants from the first round of the Carbon Innovation Fund. 

A total of 14 projects have been awarded a combined £1.3m from the new fund by the Co-op Foundation and Co-op, which aims to reduce carbon emissions in the food, farming and aquaculture sectors through innovative methods. With the longest project running for three years, and the shortest for a few months, this fund will make a steady impact for the foreseeable future. 

Funding for the total £3m Carbon Innovation Fund has been donated by Co-opfrom the sale of compostablecarrier bags in the UK, with the remainder coming from theCo-op Foundation’s own funds. It is the largest partnership of its kind between the retailer and its charity.  

Innovation in this context means going against the status quo, so projects can work with new technology or bring back ancient and indigenous ways of looking after land. 

Other projects funded today across the UK and the world include: 

·  Cornwall-based Fal Fishery, which will increase production of oyster larvae at its hatchery. It will also collect data to create an evidence base that it hopes will result in increasing the minimum landing size of native oysters. This would allow them to mature properly, take in more carbon, and reproduce.   

·   South West Mull and Iona Development that will “kelp” the environment by doubling their harvest of sugar kelp. This kelp can be used to reduce the methane emissions of cattle when integrated into their feed, help to develop bio-degradable plastics and reduce the need for mineral synthesis in fertilizers. 

·  The Fairtrade Foundation in Mbarara and Masaka, which will revolutionise the daily grind in Uganda by scaling-up the production of briquettes (used as fuel for cookstoves) made from coffee farm waste. Making use of this waste reduces methane emissions, and the need to collect wild wood for fuel.  

 Co-op Foundation is Co-op’s charity. Its flexible funding helps to build fairer and more co-operative communities. This new fund is the Foundation’s first focused on innovative approaches to reducing carbon emissions. 

Nick Crofts, CEO of the Co-op Foundation, said: “We created the Carbon Innovation Fund to encourage innovation and help tackle emissions in the food and farming industries – and what an incredible first 14 projects we’re funding! From Cornwall to Malawi, we’re working with our new partners to create sustainable change and develop inventive solutions to complex issues. We cannot wait to see what our partners achieve as they co-operate to make our world a better place to live.” 

The Carbon Innovation Fund follows Co-op’s own commitment to become a Net Zero business by 2040. It is dedicated to improving the sustainability of its products, reducing food waste and decreasing plastic packaging. It works alongside nationwide partners such as Fare Share to make sure that surplus food doesn’t go to waste. This funding is an extension of Co-op’s work around lowering its own carbon emissions which is an integral part of its 10-point climate plan. 

Verity Warnecke, Head of Climate Change, Co-op, said: “We are facing into a climate and environment crisis and we have to recognise that we all need to do more, and quicker. The Carbon Innovation Fund forms part of the action we are taking, it supports doing something different and encourages innovation that can be shared to benefit society in general – and the first round of funding does exactly that. It’s this type of co-operation which is needed across the world to help accelerate our response to the climate crisis if we are going to have a natural environment which we are proud to pass on to future generations.” 

The £3m Carbon Innovation Fund will run over the next three years. Organisations can subscribe to the Co-op Foundation blog to be the first to find out when later rounds of funding will open: www.coopfoundation.org.uk/blog 

 



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