South African retailer, Pick n Pay on Tuesday said it is piloting a new packaging-free zone as one of its efforts to lead the change in reducing packaging and plastic waste.
The retailer said that the ‘pick and weigh’ shopping experience will also provide customers with the opportunity to purchase a wide range of quality products without any product packaging.
There will be 88 dry grocery products across 15 different categories from which customers can choose.
Customers would be encouraged to bring their own reusable container, but for those who might forget theirs, the store will offer free paper bags and a range of reusable containers that can be purchased, such as a Consol jar.
“This is an innovative concept for a traditional supermarket, and we are really excited to help our customers reduce their packaging footprint,” Retail Executive: Commercial at Pick n Pay, Paula Disberry said.
She said all the products were sourced directly from suppliers and were delivered to the store in large reusable containers before being decanted into containers in the packaging-free zone. This means that no new packaging is used in delivering the items to the store.
During the trial taking place in the newly revamped Pick n Pay Constantia store in Cape Town, the retailer said it hoped to identify the top 20 or 30 products and roll out packaging-free zones to more stores across the country.
“We will closely monitor customer appetite for this offering and based on their feedback, will decide how to expand this offering. While all items are non-perishable with a naturally long shelf life, food waste is still a concern because without packaging, products will have a shorter shelf life, Disberry said.
She also said customers would embrace the opportunity to purchase packaging-free products, judging by the positive reaction to the ‘nude’ fruit and vegetable produce wall trial Pick n Pay ran in July this year to measure customers’ readiness to switch from pre-packaged food to loose products.
“The number of stores offering customers a ‘nude’ fruit and vegetable produce wall has more than doubled since our trial launched, from just 13 stores to 29.
“Stores have also extended the range to offer 24 seasonal loose PnP fruit and vegetables, up from 12 products. At this special section in the store, free paper bags are provided or customers can purchase a PnP reusable netted fresh-produce bags or bring their own clear and resealable container.
“Through trials such as these, we believe we can find viable and sustainable alternatives for our customers. There are no easy or quick