The Austrian supermarket chain, SPAR, has launched an initiative that tackles plastic waste, particularly plastic grocery packets. SPAR Eastern Cape (EC) is the first of the international franchise in South Africa to commit to protecting the environment through this effort.
SPAR EC managing director Conrad Isaac says that the retailer can no longer ignore its accountability in distributing plastic shopping bags and urges customers to consider alternative packaging options. Recyclable and degradable bags are popular alternatives that are readily available in most supermarket chains.
“We believe that safeguarding our environment and the future are often spoken about but not much is done,” says Isaac. “As the biggest food retailer in the Eastern Cape, I believe we have to take care of the health and well-being of the communities in which we operate,” he adds.
SPAR EC’s initiative
During early April, SPARs across the Eastern Cape allowed shoppers to trade in their plastic grocery packets for paper ones. Ten plastic bags could be exchanged for one large paper bag – a biodegradable and safer alternative.
These paper bags were lined with a waxy coating to make them waterproof and are able to carry up to 12kg. An initial order of 300 000 paper bags was placed in order to meet the demands of responding customers.
Isaac hopes that the initiative will grow into something bigger, eventually including the collection and recycling of all plastic waste from the supermarket chain. “For now, we are focusing on plastic shopping bags. If we can change the habits of the communities, then over time we will be contributing to a cause with real benefits for our society,” says Isaac.
Plastic waste is a growing problem for our environment; not just on land but in our oceans too. Plastic straws, bottle caps and microplastics are among the most frequently ingested waste items in fish, birds and mammals.
Image credit: SPAR Eastern Cape
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