Broll Property Group has released a recent document called The Evolution of Retail Report that outlines the use of plastic in the South African retail sector. The report highlights how many local supermarkets and stores are working towards sustainability and to minimise their reliance on plastics.
The report also documents consumer attitudes towards plastic products and the gradual shift towards plastic-free shopping experiences. In order to maintain customer loyalty and satisfaction, retailers are starting to ditch plastic shopping bags and packaging in favour of more biodegradable alternatives, such as recycled paper.
“In an era where information and data is freely available, consumers have become more aware of today’s pressures – be it environmental, social and/or economical. Retailers’ target markets are no longer making purchases solely based on taste, price or convenience,” states the report.
South African retailers are making a rapid shift to eradicate single-use plastic products. This keeps eco-conscious shoppers satisfied and reduces their overall environmental impact. “Nearly 40% of the plastic produced worldwide is for packaging purposes, to be used just once and then discarded,” notes the report.
Consumers demand transparency from retail sector
Many of the retailers that are moving away from plastic packaging and products are doing so because of consumer demands. South Africans are wanting more transparency from their supermarkets and grocery stores when it comes to sustainability and environmentally-friendly practices.
Social consciousness is growing among consumers and they are starting to question how products are made and what happens to the packaging waste after a product is purchased. These needs for transparency are helping the entire industry to shift towards more sustainable business and waste disposal practices.
The report notes that consumers are willing to pay more for products that are socially, ethically and environmentally responsible. “It is thus becoming imperative that retailers and brands ensure that sustainability and transparency form part of the core components of their business and supply chains,” reads the report.
Single-use plastics the focus of attention
The report notes that single-use plastics have received the most amount of attention in recent years. Plastic shopping bags, straws, cutlery and takeaway beverage cups are amongst the products being abandoned in favour of paper and glass alternatives. The war on straws began in South Africa in January 2018 when Ocean Basket announced that they would stop serving straws to diners at their 168 restaurants countrywide.
The #NoStraws campaign quickly garnered support from other restaurants, franchises and retailers. Soon, brands such as KFC, Food Lover’s Market and other major retailers were replacing straws with paper alternatives. This trend was swiftly followed by the removal of single-use plastic bags from many shops and supermarkets, such as Woolworths and Pick n Pay, around South Africa.
“In August 2017, Kenya introduced the world’s toughest ban on plastic bags with anyone in possession of or selling a plastic bag risking facing up to four years imprisonment or a fine of $40,000. Recently, Tanzania also banned the production, importation, sale and use of all single-use plastic bags,” reads the report – showing that the war on single-use plastics is not restricted to South Africa only.
Plastic has been the go-to material for product packaging for many years. However, the latest Broll report reveals that South African retailers are already making strides towards the reduction of plastic packaging. Zero-waste stores, like The Refillery in Johannesburg, are also becoming a popular retail model. These stores do not offer any plastic packaging or bags at all. Consumers are required to bring their own refillable containers to the stores.
In conclusion, the Broll report reveals that many South African retailers are making steady progress with the reduction of plastic packaging and waste. This trend is still spreading across the country and continent and the world shines a spotlight on plastic waste. The retail sector is evolving as consumers’ wants, needs and expectations are becoming more environmentally-focussed.
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 on 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.