SOUTH AFRICA – In line with the Shoprite Group’s commitment to ensure that 100 percent of its plastic packaging is reusable and/or recyclable by 2025, the retailer is now using the 4000 tons of plastic returned annually to its distribution centres to produce its 100 percent recycled and recyclable plastic shopping bags.

“This is the latest among the growing number of circular economy practices we are putting in place,” said Group Sustainability Manager, Sanjeev Raghubir.

While packaging protects and preserves products, the retailer recognises that it is a key driver of environmental degradation when not handled responsibly.

The Group plans to ensure that 100 percent of its plastic packaging will be reusable and/or recyclable by 2025, with an average of 30 percent recycled content to be used in all plastic packaging.

Suppliers are already being provided with reusable, returnable packing crates to minimize packaging.

“Consumers are increasingly expecting recyclable packaging and they expect transparency from retailers regarding the environmental impact of their end-to-end operations,” said Raghubir.

In 2013 the Group became the first South African retailer to produce a verified, 100 percent recycled shopping bag.

Shoprite, Checkers and Usave supermarkets introduced the “planet” bag in late 2018. Made from 100 percent recycled plastic, the sturdy reusable bags entitle customers to claim 50c off their total spend each time they present the bag at the till.

New standardised recycling instructions, as published by WWF-SA earlier this year, have been introduced to the 650 million recyclable plastic bags made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled material that the Group sells per annum.

These On Pack Recycling Labels will be included on all new products and as packaging designs of existing products are updated, to equip customers with the correct recycling information.

The Shoprite Group recognises the important role it plays in the countries and communities in which it operates. This role extends beyond being Africa’s most accessible and affordable retailer to include promoting the collection, recovery and recycling of packaging materials while stimulating the recycling industry to create jobs and alleviate poverty.

Among its many initiatives, the Group launched Africa’s Biggest Cleanup in July 2018. It continues to encourage community cleanup events hosted by its employees and the general public via

The online platform allows any organisation to register cleanup events and to submit their waste collection data. In the past financial year, more than 800 cleanup events have been registered and 40150 participants have collected 30935 bags of waste.

Its Packa-Ching partner project “buys” recyclable materials from communities in exchange for credits which can be used to buy goods at many stores, including Shoprite, Usave and Checkers stores.