Retail company Pick n Pay is moving to dramatically reduce the impact of single-use plastic and packaging by 2025.
Since 2018, the retailer has successfully implemented a number of initiatives to reduce packaging and single-use plastic at its stores and throughout its supply chain.
The company’s 2025 targets will intensify its efforts by ensuring that 100% of Pick n Pay packaging will be reusable or recyclable. About 100% of cardboard and paper used for Pick n Pay packaging will be responsibly sourced.
It will ensure 30% average recycled content across all Pick n Pay packaging, and a 30% reduction in the average packaging weight of Pick n Pay branded products.
Lastly, the company will ensure that there is a 30% increase in sales of reusable bags.
By 2025, all Pick n Pay-branded products will feature the new on-pack recycling label to help customers understand how best to recycle their packaging.
These targets come as Pick n Pay becomes a signatory, and a founding member, to the recently launched SA Plastic Pact – a South African initiative aimed at promoting a circular economy.
Extensive work has been done to ensure that a significant proportion of packaging on own brand products includes recycled materials.
This has extended into its deli and bakery sections. On a trial basis, selected stores have replaced polystyrene takeaway boxes with foil and cardboard boxes, says Pick n Pay commercial retail executive Paula Disberry.
“A key focus is reducing the weight of our product packaging which will have a significant impact. For example, our value-added vegetable bags have maintained a 30 micron thickness, which means that we save, on average, 12 t/y of plastic packaging.”
“We have also reduced the weight of our plastic herb punnets by 28%, which will result in a reduction of 20 t/y of plastic,” she says.
She adds that, Pick n Pay has also begun trialling innovative initiatives to remove packaging altogether from selected products.
“Our ‘nude fruit and vegetable’ produce walls are now available in 29 stores after overwhelming customer participation. These offer loose seasonal produce that was previously only available in packaging,” she says.
The company is piloting an entire Packaging-Free Zone in its Constantia store, in Cape Town. Customers can‘pick and weigh’over 88 products across 15 different categories from cereals and pasta to olive oil.
Disberry adds that the company has also seen a positive shift in plastic bags.
“Our reusable netted produce bags have been particularly popular with customers with more than 100 000 being sold last year. We also sold 2.3-million reusable bags – a 50% year-on-year increase, compared with 2018. Our new R4 reusable bags, made from green recycled polyethylene terephthalate bottles, have played a significant role in driving the shift from a plastic shopping bag to a reusable bag.”
To complement their efforts, she says it is vital to be part of collaborative initiatives, such as the SA Plastic Pact and the Ellen MacArthur New Plastics Global Commitment.
“These collaborations bring together retailers, brand owners, industry bodies and government, in setting long-term common targets for the whole plastics value chain to support. This will drive more positive change for our customers on a much larger scale.”
“As our business grows, so does our impact. Through People n Planet – our sustainable development programme – we are taking bigger steps and leaving smaller footprints. Our 2025 targets will allow our customers to have more choice and live greener lives,” Disberry concludes.