Woolworths has announced that 25 stores including some of its largest full line stores and 3 food markets are now single-use plastic shopping bag free.

Despite Covid-19 lockdown disruptions, over the last month Woolworths has started introducing its innovative ‘closed loop recycled’ paper bag and rolling out its ‘low cost’ reusable bag, as part of the retailer’s commitment to phase out single-use plastic bags.

Since making this commitment, Woolworths has trialled its ‘low cost’ reusable bag in five plastic bag free food stores and ‘closed loop recycled’ paper bag for fashion, beauty and home (FBH) purchases in two full line stores. Both bags are made locally by supplier development beneficiaries and constructed from either fabric made from recycled plastic (PET) or Forest Stewardship Council® – certified recycled content, sourced from the same mill where Woolworths (FSC N002141) sends its recyclable cardboard and paper.

“Our trials have confirmed that our customers want to reduce their plastic shopping bag usage and invest in low cost reusable bags or use paper bags. Since we launched our low cost reusable bag and in-store communications encouraging customers to choose reusable bags, we have seen about a 30% reduction in plastic shopping bag sales across all stores which is very encouraging. By phasing out our single-use plastic shopping bags, we will remove between 5 and 6 tonnes of plastic waste,” confirms Feroz Koor: Woolworths Holdings Group Head of Sustainability.

“Over the last two years, our suppliers have both received financial and business advisory support from the Woolworths Supplier Development programme to invest in new machinery and have employed additional staff to meet our increased demands of the paper and reusable fabric bags. Covid 19 and lockdown restrictions have and continue to impact on the production of these bags but we are slowly starting to increase stock levels which has enabled us to remove single-use plastic bags from these stores.”

“The inclusion of some of our top 10 stores in this rollout gives us the opportunity to test the supply chain processes that we introduced with the initial small scale trial of 2 and 5 stores accordingly as well as assist us in stock projections going forward as we become single-use plastic bag free”

“Smart, sustainable solutions often take time to get off the ground but when they do, they change our world for the better instantly. While Covid 19 has impacted our roll out, we remain committed in our journey to remove single use plastic from our stores. Together with our customers we are looking forward to removing all single use plastic bags from our stores.” concludes Koor.