Woolworths introduce reusable plastic bags at four of its Western Cape stores from November as part of its plan to completely phase out single-use shopping bags by 2020.
Single-use plastic bags will still be sold at the V&A Waterfront, Palmyra and Pinelands Woolworths stores, but consumers will now also get the option to buy a reusable plastic bag for R5.50.
At Woolworths Steenberg, single-use plastic bags will completely be phased out.
Reusable bags are more durable and are able to carry more weight than typical plastic bags.
Feroz Koor, Woolworths head of sustainability, said the new initiative is an opportunity to gauge customer reaction ahead of a national roll out.
He said research has shown that the lightweight plastic bag levy introduced in 2003 has not curbed the country’s plastic shopping bag consumption.
The reusable bags will be locally-made from recycled materials by Isikwama, Woolworths’ long-standing black enterprise development supplier, which has grown into a 100-employee strong organisation over the past eight years.
In June, Woolworths revealed its vision to send no packaging waste to landfill sites, and to stop using single-use plastics in its stores by 2022.
Pick n Pay has also recently announced plans to introduce compostable supermarket bags at its stores nationwide, after a successful trail July.
Jeremy Sampson, director at Brand Finance Africa, previously told Business Insider South Africa that supermarket initiatives to drop plastic can contribute to customer loyalty.
“It isn’t unheard of now for shoppers to prefer one supermarket brand over another, purely because they express a serious commitment to recycled content in packaging or encourage their shoppers to bring their bags every time they shop,” he said.