Pick n Pay says it will significantly reduce the impact of single-use plastic and packaging as it aims to be 100% recyclable by 2025.
Paula Disberry, retail executive: commercial at Pick n Pay, said that extensive work has been done to ensure that a significant proportion of packaging on its own-brand products includes recycled materials.
This has extended into its deli and bakery sections and, on a trial basis, selected stores have replaced polystyrene takeaway boxes with foil and cardboard boxes, she said.
The company is also piloting an entire Packaging-Free Zone in its Constantia store in Cape Town. Customers can ‘pick and weigh’ over 88 products across 15 different categories from cereals and pasta to olive oil, Disberry said.
In 2019 the retailer began trialling innovative initiatives to remove packaging altogether from selected products. This includes ‘nude fruit and vegetable’ produce walls which are now available in 29 stores.
These offer loose seasonal produce that was previously only available in packaging.
Disberry said that Pick n Pay has also seen a positive shift in plastic bags.
“Our reusable netted produce bags have been particularly popular with customers with more than 100,000 being sold last year.
“We also sold 2.3 million reusable bags – a 50% year-on-year increase when compared to 2018. Our new R4 reusable bags, made from green recycled PET bottles, have played a significant role in driving the shift from a plastic shopping bag to a reusable bag.”
At the end of January, government said it is looking at a number of policy interventions to cut down on the environmental impact of plastics in South Africa.
The Department of Environmental Affairs is looking at amending the current policies around plastic shopping bags in South Africa as well as the introduction of legislation around single-use plastics.
“We are busy with initiatives on plastic bag policy assessment, where we want to determine a new policy direction and to inform amendments to existing policy instruments governing the production and sale of plastic carrier bags,” said Oceans and Coast deputy-director general Judy Beaumont.
“We are also assessing the extent of single-use plastics waste with a view to propose policy options for addressing its environmental impacts.”