Supermarket giant Woolworths has committed to reducing plastic packaging usage and address products in their range that are over-packaged.
“We have trials presently underway to remove or reduce plastic packaging on 28 fresh produce lines such as tomatoes, lettuce and sweet potatoes. Over the last few months, we have removed plastic packaging from organic spring onions, celery, kale and English spinach lines removing 25.2 tonnes of plastic packaging in our stores,” said Woolworths in a statement.
The supermarket giant said some packaging will continue to be used to preserve the lifespan of a product throughout the supply chain and to extend the shelf life of products in store and in the home, which is an important factor in cutting down food waste.
“To help support our customers in recycling packaging, all our stores will also be offering flexible plastic recycling by June 30, 2018, via the RedCycle program. This is a closed loop recycling solution where customers can return soft plastic packaging used on produce, biscuit packets, frozen food bags, rice and pasta bags, confectionery packets and shopping bags which are recycled by our recycling partners. The material is delivered to RedCycle to be turned into recycled plastic products such as outdoor furniture,” said Woolies.
The supermarket giant said it plans to apply the Australasian Recycling Label on their own brand products to help make it easier for customers to understand how to recycle packaging correctly. It will continue to work with their suppliers and remains fully committed to actively pursue packaging alternatives to reduce the amount of plastic usage and improve the recyclability of packaging.
The National Retail Association (NRA) also said in a statement, there are only 100 days left before retailers across Queensland have to permanently ban plastic bags nationwide, which kicks into effect on July 1 2018. The ban includes all single-use, lightweight shopping bags with handles and a thickness under 35 microns.
NRA manager of Industry Policy David Stout said that it is vital that businesses and consumers alike are well-prepared for when the ban comes into effect.
“In 100 days Queensland retailers will no longer be able to provide light-weight plastic shopping bags to customers,” Stout said. “The new laws will apply to all Queensland retail outlets regardless of size or type and shoppers will have to either purchase an alternative bag or bring their own from home. Whether it’s grabbing groceries at the supermarket or picking up dinner from the local takeaway, conventional plastic bags will no longer be available to shoppers.”
Stout said that from May 1, retailers may provide shoppers with alternative bag options that comply with the new laws should they request one.
“Queensland retailers have known for some time that this ban is coming, and we have begun to see some outlets already implement alternative bag options that are not captured by the impending ban. After May 1, if a customer requests an alternative bag that is not banned under the new laws, the retailer may provide them with one and can charge a fee for the alternative bag,” said Stout.
“Retailers who do not comply with the news laws from July 1 face hefty fines of over $6,000 not to mention disruptions to their business and upsetting customers. In conjunction with the Queensland Government, the NRA has been conducting workshops across Queensland to ensure that the industry is well equipped to handle the transition.”