In honour of National Marine Week Woolworths has announced its intentions to turn one of its Western Cape stores into a plastic bag free zone.

The initiative forms part of the retailer’s new in-store reusable bag trial. The trial, which will start on 5th November 217, will see Woolworths making entry level, reusable shopping bags available in four stores across the Western Cape including the V&A Waterfront, Palmyra, Pinelands and Steenberg.

Woolworths Steenberg, will be completely plastic bag free for the duration of the trial, with customers having the choice of either purchasing a reusable bag or bringing their own bags. In the remaining three stores, the current single-use plastic bags will still be available.

Shifting away from single-use plastic shopping bags

According to the retailer the aim of the trial is to test whether, given a choice of a more affordable reusable bag, consumers will make the shift away from buying single-use plastic shopping bags.

“This reusable bag trial is an opportunity for us to gauge customer reaction, feedback and input that will inform the greater phasing out of single-use plastics,” says Feroz Koor, Woolworths Holdings Group Head of Sustainability.

“There is a wide range of views and different levels of awareness of the issues which need to be understood so that we can take this journey to ZERO waste to landfill hand-in-hand with all our customers.”

The new R5.50 reusable, recyclable shopping bag is locally-made from recycled materials by Isikwama.

Reducing plastic waste

South Africans, like the rest of the world, have been relatively slow to transform to the more environmentally-friendly reusable options.  Research has shown that the lightweight plastic bag levy introduced in 2003 has not curbed the country’s plastic shopping bag consumption.

When you consider that Woolworths currently sells about 140 million plastic bags a year, which is between six to seven tonnes of plastic, helping consumers choose reusable bags will make a significant impact on reducing plastic waste.