SPAR South Africa’s Eastern Cape (EC) division has declared war on plastic bags as the retailer spearheads a significant step forward in the battle to protect the environment. In a move which has been hailed by environmental groups as a major development, the SPAR EC team have launched an initiative to urge customers to consider alternative packaging options.
With hundreds of millions of shopping bags in circulation, SPAR EC Managing Director, Conrad Isaac, said they could no longer ignore their accountability in what was becoming an increasingly harmful situation in the world. “We believe that safeguarding our environment and the future are often spoken about about but not much is done,” he said. As the biggest food retailer in the Eastern Cape, I believe we have to take care of the health and wellbeing of the communities in which we operate.”
Facing a massive challenge to change the consumer’s mind-set, SPAR EC has launched a campaign to encourage shoppers to swop plastic bags for paper bags. In two days in April, members of the public were given a paper bag free of charge for every 10 plastic shopping bags brought to any one of SPAR’s Eastern Cape outlets.
An initial order of 300,000 paper bags was placed to accommodate the demand. These were wax-lined, waterproof reusable bags, capable of carrying 12 kg.
Having long been involved in the fight against pollution, Zwartkops Conservancy Environmental Manager, Jenny Rump, was full of praise for SPAR EC’s decision to implement this initiative: “We are over the moon with their passion for the project and this is a much-needed wake-up call,” she said. “The problem with plastic is that it is not biodegradable and, consequently, it never disappears. For now we are focusing on plastic shopping bags, but if we can change the habits of the communities over time, we will be contributing to a cause with real benefits for our society.”