SOUTH AFRICA – Pick n Pay, the second largest supermarket chain store in South Africa is piloting use of compostable bag at its V&A Waterfront store with plans to ditch single-use plastic carrier bags.

The group is holding discussions to offer solutions to plastic bag alternatives at its stores, according to Business Report.

It has become the first South African retailer to trial compostable bags as an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic bags.

During the trial, plastic carrier bags, barrier bags and fruit and vegetable bags were replaced by compostable bags which were given to customers free at the time.

Another alternative to plastic packaging included the use of cardboard boxes which were tried at a cost.

Pick n Pay chairperson Gareth Ackerman said much progress had been made since 2003 to encourage customers to move away from single-use plastic carrier bags but more needs to be done.

The company noted the new bags would break down after three to six months, depending on the composting system, as opposed to the reported 500 to 1 000 years for plastic bags.

Commenting on the matter, Suzanne Ackerman-Berman, director of transformation said, “We still have lots of plastic packaging throughout our store, but it’s these seemingly small changes which make a major difference to our environment.

It’s not possible to remove plastic entirely at this point, but we’re moving in the right direction and we hope others follow suit.”

Plastic waste commitment

Compostable bags introduces customers to an environmentally friendly shopping packet at Pick n Pay stores.

Last month, the supermarket chain revealed five target areas in the short term in a commitment to reduce plastic waste including introduction of 100% recycled plastic bags and the phasing out of plastic straws.

It said it was introducing branded earbuds where the plastic inners will be replaced with paper.

According to the company, the biodegradable alternative has a similar production cost though the technology required has only recently become available in South Africa.