Change coming to Woolies’ fruit and veg
Picking up fruit and veg at the supermarket is set to be a little different with supermarket Woolworths ditching plastic packaging for cardboard.
To mark World Environment Day today, the supermarket giant has begun a trial where its Fresh Food Kids range of mini apples, pears and bananas will be packed in cardboard boxes rather than plastic bags.
The see through plastic bags will be changed for coloured boxes which have a resemblance to McDonald's Happy Meal packs.
That follows on the heels of bananas, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, broccolini, sweet potatoes and organic apples which have seen the plastic used in packing them reduced or axed completely.
Woolies reckons it has saved 237 tonnes of plastic packaging in the last year by swapping out plastic in the fruit and veg aisles. Customers have long grumbled that packs of fresh produce have used too much plastic wrap. This is particularity the case with organic produce which is often sold packaged to distinguish it from its non-organic equivalent.
Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said even at the height of the pandemic shoppers were still keeping an eye on environmental issues.
"Something that was very surprising during COVID was the continued relevance of the environment, with 70 per cent of Australians saying that taking care of the planet and making sustainable choices remained important to them, even at the height of the crisis.
"While we've made pleasing progress in reducing the amount of plastic in our stores, supported recycling labelling initiatives, and made improvements in energy efficiency, sustainable sourcing and reducing food waste, we know there is still much more to be done to meet our customers and our own aspirations," Mr Banducci said.
Plastic clamshells around some bananas have been given the heave-ho in favour of sticky tape to wrap round them; rigid plastic trays holding vine tomatoes are now pulp fibre trays; plastic tags on broccolini have made the change to paper and plastic film on carrots and potatoes has been reduced by 30 per cent.
The chain said that in total it had removed 890 tonnes of plastic from its fruit, vegetables and bakery ranges over the past two years.
Since the removal of single-use plastic bags in 2018 more than six billion Woolies bags have been taken out of circulation, the firm said.
Earlier this week, Woolies stores began offering customers the option of a 20c brown paper bag.
The retro bag is made from 70 per cent recycled paper. They will be able to hold up to six kilograms of grocery items per bag, and are certified responsibly sourced by the Forest Stewardship Council.
But Woolies has suffered some backlash after it emerged the bags were made overseas.
"Made in China … what a disgrace. Certainly, won't be using these bags," said one customer on Woolworths Facebook page.
"SHAME on you Woolworths," said another. "Surely they should have been manufactured here in Australia?
A Woolworths spokeswoman told news.com.au that the company would be keen to make the bags in Australia but there's no manufacturer domestically with enough capacity to pump them out.
"We've been exploring options to source paper bags locally at the scale we need.
"We'll continue to work with local manufacturers to see if we can build the capability to produce paper bags locally."
Originally published as Change coming to Woolies' fruit and veg