Liberty Two Degrees, with malls catering to 20 million shoppers a year, announced it will incrementally eliminate the use of plastic bags, while a number of big retailers have their own plans to make a significant difference in the next year or two.

Last week we reported on the drive by Woolworths, which now includes adding the Moreleta Village store in Pretoria east, to roll-out stores which do not offer single-use plastic shopping bags at all. In the place of these, customers are encouraged to bring or buy reusable shopping bags, the fabric of which is made from recycled bottles and which are themselves recyclable.



Woolworths hopes by 2020 to have weaned its shoppers off plastic bags, and Pick n Pay is on a similar path, with a R5 reusable budget bag and a netted bag for fruit and veg on trial in certain stores.

Already a number of restaurant owners - such as Famous Brands - have adopted the international call to ban plastic straws, with more expected to follow as awareness grows of the harm plastic causes the environment and animals - especially marine animals, and along with plastic bags and straws will come plastic bottles, balloons, plastic cutlery and packaging used once and then thrown away.

South Korea banned single-use plastic bags this year and Mexico City - one of the world’s largest producers of waste - has banned a number of single-use plastic items, as have islands and countries on the Mediterranean Sea which witness large amounts of non-biodegradable plastic waste in the sea and on their beaches, and the European Union which is working with its member states to have all packaging on the continent reusable or recyclable by 2030.

These efforts to move shoppers to a more environmentally friendly carrier than plastic are to be applauded and it is good to know that more shoppers are in fact buying reusable bags.

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