Now conscientious shoppers can make use of durable shopping bags made entirely from recycled PET plastic – ticking ALL the boxes for the greenest shopper ever.
Woolworths has led the pack in becoming one of the first retailers to endorse products contributing to a friendlier environment to further demonstrate their dedication to sound environmental policy.
Woolworths was the first major South African retailer to use post-consumer recycled plastic in foods packaging. They continue to play a major rule in using recycled polyethylene terephthalate, or rPET for short, to supplement its traditional use of recycler Extrupet’s locally produced food grade and non food grade rPET. Extrupet is a leader in the recycling of Post-Consumer PET bottles recovered from landfill sites. Its state of the art recycling facility employs the latest technology developed and manufactured in Europe.
“The launch of this bag once again demonstrates a tangible success story in introducing a product that is not only environmentally friendly, but also sustainable in that it was manufactured from packaging waste that would otherwise have ended up in a landfill,” says Extrupet’s chief operating officer Chandru Wadhwani.
This bag teaches recycling
To supplement its already existing range of recycled sandwich packaging, 1.5 litre juice bottles, fruit punnets as well as cleaning agent bottles Extrupet and Woolworths have taken their partnership further with yet another innovative product that will ensure that customers are made aware of the importance of recycling, by introducing the new Woolworths reusable shopping bags made from 100% rPET supplied by Extrupet.
“Extrupet’s relationship with Woolworths was founded on the need to meet an ever growing demand from consumers today to lead a sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle,” says Wadhwani.
The process involves Extrupet supplying rPET to Propet, in Cape Town to manufacture the polyester fibre. Propet has been generating 800 tonnes of polyester fibre per month, using mixed PET resin chips made from recycled plastic drink bottles.
This fibre is then sent to Romatex – the largest household textile manufacturers in South Africa – to produce roller fabric, which is then passed on to the Woolworths Flagship Enterprise Development Project, Isikhwama, to produce these newly launched bags.
Reduce virgin plastic
These bags carry a tag detailing the environmentally friendly manufacturing process and encouraging customers to continue recycling. The bags have been on Woolworths’ shelves since early January in the green launch colour, which will soon be augmented with the range of colours synonymous with Woolworths.
Manager of the project for Woolworths, Ralph Jewson, said the project was initiated to reduce the amount of virgin plastic that is consumed and burdening the country’s landfill sites, while also being a valuable consumer education tool through the re-usable shopper bags.
“This is a demonstration of our commitment to our Good Business Journey, which envisions the reduction of plastic waste through re-usable recycled content bags,” he says.
By transforming a product that is used daily and frequently, consumers are enlightened about the fact that discarded recycled bottles can become something practical (a tangible outcome of recycling) for re-use.
Not recycling yet?
“Hopefully this message will get through to our customers who do not yet recycle,” says Jewson, “to re-think their position and behaviour. And to those who do recycle, these bags are a heart-warming reminder of the positive effects of their efforts.”
Woolworths Head of Sustainability, Justin Smith, says the Woolworths Good Business Journey is a comprehensive long term plan centred on six focus areas, namely accelerating transformation, driving social development, sustainable farming, responsible water practices, addressing energy and climate change, and waste management.
”One of our key objectives is to drive the integration of sustainability attributes into our products more strongly, hence our support for products made from recycled materials. We look for like-minded partners to address the sustainability challenges that we all face,” says Smith.
To date, about 100 000 bags are in circulation, with the final dark blue colour scheduled to hit Woolworths’ shelves across the country in late April 2012.
By Justin Smith, Head of Sustainability (Good Business journey programme), Woolworths Group Marketing