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Woolworths is taking back its reusable shopping bags to convert into shipping pallets

| On the move

Woolworth is collecting its in-store reusable fabric bags that customers don’t need anymore and is converting them to shipping pallets, but only in Cape Town for now.

Woolworths reuseable bag 1

Phumi Ramalepe | Business Insider SA

In a bid to go plastic-free, Woolworth announced the phasing out the use of its plastic bags in some of its stores in 2018 and encouraged customers to buy the reusable fabric bags for R7 instead.

Although the environmentally friendly packaging strategy has proven to be effective, it has created another problem of its own called the 'Woolies bag problem'. This is when customers forget their shopping bags at home during shopping runs and end up buying new bags almost every time they shop, resulting in customers having more than they need. 

To fix the problem, the retailer has introduced collection points at its Hout Bay and Constantia Village stores where customers can drop off their bags. 

This come after the retailer ran a successful reusable shopping bag collection trial at its Palmyra store sometime in May this year.

“We started the trial in May and the idea behind that was… to say bring your bags back if you don’t need them.

“We started working with a [company] to see how these bags can be reused and transformed into something else. The partner that we are working with has managed to turn the bags into shipping pallets,” said Woolworths Group Head of Sustainability Feroz Koor in a CapeTalk interview.

How it works is Woolies collects the bags in stores after customers drop them off and then take them to the distribution centre. The retailer's partner process the amount of bags needed and then converts them into black shipping pallets.

The retailer plans to acquire the shipping palates for its delivery needs.

Woolworths has rolled out the use of the shopping bags in almost 250 stores nationally and plans to eradicate the use of nonrecyclable packaging by the end of 2022.  

With the collection rollout taking place in the Western Cape for now, KZN and Gauteng will soon be added to the list.

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