On its ongoing commitment to phase out single-use plastic shopping bags by 2020, Woolworths has announced the second phase of its trial of specially-designed paper bags for fashion, beauty and homeware purchases.  In alignment with its Good Business Journey, every aspect of the impact of the new paper bags has been considered, from improved care for the environment, utilising recycled content, to sourcing the bag from a local medium sized black owned enterprise.

The stand-out feature of the new paper bags is that it is made out of 100% recycled paper.  The paper used in their production is recovered from used cardboard and boxes from the same mill where Woolworths itself sends its cardboard waste, resulting in a ‘closed loop- recycling’ paper shopping bag in line with circular economy principles.  The design process has included durability to ensure the bags can handle the weights and sizes of different fashion, beauty and homeware items.  From the consumer perspective, the bags may be re-used for ongoing fashion, beauty and homeware purchases, but will be unsuitable for food purchases as paper bags simply can’t stand up to the inevitable moisture of cold chains items.  The new paper bags will also be fully recyclable, making it easy for Woolies’ customers to dispose of the bags responsibly and ensure they don’t go ultimately to landfill.

“The Woolworths paper bag has been designed as a true win-win,” says Feroz Koor: Woolworths Holdings Group Head of Sustainability.  “We have had some excellent learnings from the Cape Town trial which has resulted in a couple of changes including slight changes to the size of the bags.  We are looking forward to extending the trial to Midlands Mall as it offers us the opportunity to test our logistics for an outlying area as well as align our sustainability efforts with the recent opening of the Woolies sponsored Wildlands Recycling Village at Midlands Mall.”

Woolworths has partnered with WILDLANDS to establish a recycling village at Midlands Mall to encourage citizen-action to improve our environment.  The Midlands Mall recycling village is the fourth recycling village in this partnership with one more to follow, all in the KZN area, with the aim to increase recycling rates in South Africa. 

WILDLANDS recycling villages, which are at the forefront of recycling and the recycling circular economy in South Africa, are part of a well-established WILDTRUST programme.  Other partners include Dow, Nedbank and YES (Youth Employment Service).

“We are delighted that our store has been chosen as the first KZN store to lead the way for finding sustainable solutions to our country’s huge plastic pollution issues.  We know that care for the environment is close to our customers’ hearts and are looking forward to joining hands with them to reduce single use plastic bag usage and increase recycling in our community. ” says Carra Jakobi Woolworths Midlands Mall, Store Manager