SOUTH AFRICA – The Spar Group, a South African retail chain, has launched the second phase of its Eastern Cape campaign to reduce the use of plastic as part of its efforts to promote a sustainable environment.

The phase will include a R250, 000 (US$17900) financial package to be awarded to entities that come up with innovative ideas to make a difference.

The campaign also entails a promotion where Spar customers will get a free paper bag for every 10 plastic bags they return to the retail outlet.

Since launching the campaign in April 2018, Spar Eastern Cape has sold 4.3-million fewer plastic bags compared to the same period the previous year, reports IOL Business.

Angelo Swartz, the incoming Spar Eastern Cape managing director who is set to take over from Conrad Isaac, said at the launch in Port Elizabeth that the retailer remains committed towards the drive of minimising plastic waste.

“We are going to stay committed to raising public awareness about the situation, not only by driving it through our products but also by telling people why they need to make a difference,” Swartz said.

“We are going to challenge society in general to come up with initiatives that really affect the community. To this effect, a total of R250 000 will be made available for prizes for new ideas that can make a difference.”

He said Spar would also continue to work with suppliers to achieve responsible packaging solutions.

“Plastic does have a place in our lives, but we have to find responsible ways to use it and to come up with innovative solutions for re-use,” said added.

The move by Spar further strengthens South African retailer’s drive of reducing the use of plastic packaging after Pick n Pay recently launched a dedicated plastic and packaging-free zone.

Spar, which has more than 4 000 stores, runs its business majorly in southern Africa but has also expanded into Ireland, southwest England and Switzerland.

In South Africa, the business operates more than 2,000 stores, while it also has a presence in Angola, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi and Lesotho.

The group is also set to expand its footprint beyond the continent with the acquisition a controlling stake in Polish deli and supermarket chain Piotr i Pawel group in Poland, Europe.