Finally we can purchase sandwiches packed in recycled plastic – thumbs up for Woolies!
In line with its promise to find more environmentally friendly packaging solutions and reduce its carbon footprint, Woolworths has now become the first major South African retailer to begin using post-consumer recycled plastic in foods packaging.
Since the beginning of September, Woolworths ready-to-eat sandwiches are packed in containers made with 30% rPET (recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate) made from recycled plastic bottles.
Recycling 1 ton of PET bottles saves 6.2 cubic metres of landfill space. It also saves enough energy to keep a 15 watt energy-saver light glowing for 24 hours. Woolworths first began using rPET fibre several years ago for the filling in duvets and pillows.
Recycling to roll out to juice bottles too
Woolworths is firmly committed to its Good Business Journey goal to reduce the impact packaging has on the environment. They are working towards moving beyond the 30% mark and plan to roll out rPET packaging to juice bottles and other plastic packaging shortly.
‘Packaging made with rPET is more ecologically sound and technologically advanced. There is also no compromise on food safety,’ explains Zyda Rylands, Managing Director of Foods at Woolworths.
‘The recycled PET comes primarily from locally collected soft drink and water bottles. It is scrupulously ‘super cleaned’ by the local supplier, who has invested some R20 million in a food grade recycling plant. This is the first recycler in the world to be certified by the British Retail Consortium. The resulting plastic meets or exceeds international standards for food safety,’ Rylands adds.
Creating jobs for 10 000 people
Recycling PET has economic advantages as well. ‘Using rPET reduces CO2 emissions and cuts our dependence on imported oil stocks used to make ‘virgin’ plastic,’ says Rylands. ‘It also helps create jobs: it’s estimated that some 10 000 people earn income from collecting bottles.’
‘We see the introduction of rPET food packaging as another important step on our Good business journey. Woolworths remains firmly committed to reducing food packaging and to introducing recycled materials where possible. We have eliminated over 600 tons of foods packaging. More than 23% of the product lines in food currently contain recycled packaging materials, and most of the sleeves on our ready-made meals, dips and other food products are made from cardboard with a 80% recycled paper content.’
Good business journey
Woolworths’ Good Business Journey is a comprehensive 5 year plan announced in April 2007.
This incorporates a series of challenging targets and communities, centred on four key priorities:
- accelerating transformation,
- driving social development,
- enhancing Woolworths’ environmental focus and
- addressing climate change.
It is Woolworths’ on-going plan to make a difference in its communities, to the country and the world.