Woolworths has announced that it will remove single-use plastic bags from one of its stores as part of a six-month trial period.
From November, the retailer will not offer any plastic bags at its Steenberg store in Cape Town, with customers needing to either bring their own bag, or pay R5.50 for a reusable one, Reuters reported.
Woolworths’ head of sustainability Feroz Koor said research had shown that the levy introduced in 2003 has not curbed the country’s plastic shopping bag consumption. He said the retailer aims to phase out plastic bags by 2020.
“When you consider that Woolworths currently sells about 140 million plastic bags a year, which is between six to seven tonnes of plastic, helping consumers choose reusable bags will make a significant impact on reducing plastic waste,” Koor said in a statement.
In June Woolworths announced that it aims to be the first retailer in South Africa to contribute zero packaging waste.
This will include the phasing out of unnecessary single-use plastics, and the commitment for all its packaging to be either reusable or recyclable by 2022.
It added that it is committed to phasing out single-use plastic shopping bags completely by 2020.
Other recent trials that Woolworths have committed to include:
- Wooden cutlery and paper straws are being rolled out in NowNow and WCafes with a view to phase out plastic cutlery and straws completely;
- Plastic straws are no longer available for purchase in store;
- Paper-stemmed earbuds will be on the shelves by the end of October and plastic ear buds will no longer be sold in store;
- A pilot coffee cup recycling programme is currently underway in NowNow stores, with a view to rolling out nationally;
- The retailer is trialling reverse recycling vending machines, where customers can bring in their recyclables and put them into the vending machine so that they can be recycled;
- Woolworths is also trialling a new range of affordable reusable shopping bags.