Major supermarkets to ditch plastic waste

Back to News
Two of South Africa’s major supermarkets have decided to put an end to plastic waste. Woolworths and Pick n Pay have agreed that we need to do more to curb plastic pollution in the environment, starting with single-use items such as shopping packets and straws.These announcements come at a time when many other businesses, government and foreign nations are announcing similar actions to tackle plastic waste. Another local retailer has also already committed to eradicating plastic shopping bags in-store.

Woolworths and Pick n Pay to become 100% recyclable

Woolworths has announced plans to make all of their packaging and in-store plastic products 100% recyclable by 2022. The group aims to achieve zero-packaging-to-landfill as part of becoming totally recyclable; none of their plastic products will end up in landfill after 2022.This effort requires the support of the local recycling industry and funding to ensure that all of their plastic products are processed. The packaging will need to be made from 100% recyclable materials in order for it to be accepted by the recycling facilities.Similarly, Pick n Pay will be introducing 100% recyclable plastic bags in all its stores from August 2018. A wide range of affordable and reusable alternatives will be available to customers to encourage them to stop using the plastic packets.

The retailers will phase out single-use plastic products

Woolworths will be phasing out single-use plastics from its stores across the country, particularly their plastic shopping bags, straws and earbuds. Woolworths CEO and executive director Zyda Rylands says that this announcement follows extensive customer engagement.“We know that many of our customers fully support our zero packaging waste to landfill journey and they want to see it happen as fast as possible. But this is not a path that we can walk alone. To succeed, we need our customers, our suppliers and the South African recycling industry to with us,” she says.Woolworths will also partner with the government, waste management services and packaging producers to develop proper solutions for recyclable plastics. These solutions need to be economically sound and customer participation in post-sale recycling is essential.Pick n Pay will also be phasing out plastic straws and Pick n Pay-branded earbuds. Instead, paper alternatives will be provided. Paper straws will be available at the cold drink kiosks and paper earbuds will soon be stocked on the shelves.“Everyone has an important part to play in reducing plastic waste. We want to make it possible for our customers to help in this effort, and we’re giving them more choices in our stores to do just that,” says Pick n Pay retail executive for commercial and marketing Paula Disberry.

The two chains will use more environmentally-friendly packaging

In 2010, Woolworths became the first major retailer in South Africa to use recycled plastic for food packaging. Their ready-to-eat sandwiches have been packed in containers made from 30% recycled PET bottles since September 2010. According to Woolworths, everything in their stores from trolleys to signage is made from recycled materials. This effort is part of the Woolworths’ pledge to environmental sustainability and reduced waste-to-landfill.Pick n Pay has introduced recycled plastics in some of its products as well. Their plastic punnets for fruit and vegetables are made from 25% recycled PET plastic, but the retailer is aiming to make its branded soft drink bottles and cleaning products from a similar percentage of recycled plastic.Online shoppers who utilise Pick n Pay’s home delivery service will also be offered free plastic collection from their homes, where plastic bags and packaging will be collected and recycled free of charge.These announcements and commitments show that South African retailers are aware of the impact of plastic waste on the environment. Shoppers and consumers need to play their part in recycling more plastic and reducing waste-to-landfill too.___Averda is a leading waste management provider with over 50 years of experience across three continents. Through growth, transformation and engagement, we strive to find new ways of managing waste while protecting the community and environment. ___By pairing international expertise with local insights, we have secured our position as one of South Africa’s most respected providers of waste management and industrial cleaning services. We also operate in the recycling, pipe inspection, CCTV, infrastructure inspection, hydro-demolition, high-pressure water jetting and catalyst handling industries. ___Follow us Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for the best tips on recycling and the latest industry news. See our Instagram and YouTube channels for more insights into environmental affairs and our work with local communities.