Retail group Shoprite says it will reward customers for using its newly introduced "planet" bags. PHOTO: Calibro

Retail group Shoprite announced on Tuesday that it start rewarding customers for using its newly introduced "planet" bags in both the Shoprite and Checkers stores.

Made from 100% recycled and recyclable plastic, the bags retail for R3 each but every time a customer re-uses the bag, they will get 50c off their grocery purchase. The bag is 70 microns, compared to the 24 microns for standard plastic bags, and will last for multiple shopping trips.

In 2013, Shoprite became the first South African retailer to introduce recycled and recyclable plastic shopping bags in its Checkers stores.

In the past year, the group sold 700 million plastic bags made from 100% post-consumer recycled material, diverting 7,000 tons of plastic from landfill. The retailer says it has a zero waste-to-landfill approach and is committed to reducing waste in its operations. 

Shoprite also said it had used recyclable material in almost 60% of the packaging used for fruit and vegetables including punnets, trays, bags, pockets and cartons, and introduced fully biodegradable and compostable avo containers for all of its ripe and ready avo punnets - becoming the first South African retailer to do so. 

It said packaging of vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, baby marrows, patty pans, baby gems, squash and fruit packs would also switch to fully biodegradable and compostable containers from early November. 

With these initiatives, Shoprite said it would reduce its use of foam punnets by 3.5 million per annum.

- African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa