LETTER - In an effort to cut down on single-use plastic and address the plastic shopping bag problem plaguing the entire planet, but especially places close to rivers and the sea, SPAR in the Western Cape and ­Namibia have actively realigned themselves even more assertively in the fight to reduce, and eventually stop, the sale of plastic shopping bags.

Addressing the media at the Two Oceans Aquarium on Sunday morning, Mario Santana, the MD of SPAR Western Cape and Namibia, announced that not one plastic bag would be sold in SPAR stores throughout the Western Cape and Namibia on - “International Plastic Bag Free Day”, which was yesterday.

Santana said the supermarket group wanted to place even more emphasis on finding alternative solutions to the problem of plastic.

“As one of South Africa’s leading retailers, we have a huge role to play in changing the culture around the use of plastic in-store. It’s no longer a question of if we should add our voice to the global commitment to reduce, reuse and recycle - but how.”

He said that SPAR in the Western Cape and Namibia had invested in a campaign over the past four years aimed at reducing the use of plastic bags.

“Last year, we sold 68265000 plastic bags across our stores in the Western Cape. I can say with absolute conviction that this is 68million reasons why we stand here today committed to helping eradicate the problem.”

In addition to this, Santana announced the introduction of fully recyclable (8% chalk) bags in Western Cape and Namibian stores.

This will ensure that any bags sold in SPAR stores will be fully ­recyclable.

These announcements come on the back of an ongoing commitment to fighting the plastic problem, and an alignment with the efforts of environmental campaigner Hayley McLellan of the Two Oceans Aquarium.

It was on the strength of this impassioned campaigner’s appeal that the Western Cape and Namibia division of the SPAR supermarket group launched the “No Plastic, No Problem” campaign.

The campaign, supported by in-store posters, encourages SPAR customers to take ownership of the problem and to stop using the conventional plastic shopping bags altogether.

In-store communication encourages shoppers to:

Bring your own shopping bag.

Buy a SPAR brown paper bag.

Buy a SPAR canvas bag.

Carry your groceries to your car and pack them in your boot.

Only, as a last option, buy a plastic bag - but please recycle responsibly.

McLellan, who also spoke at the announcement, lauded the efforts of a local company such as SPAR in ­addressing the plastic bag problem.

“As an individual, I passionately advocate saying no to plastic shopping bags at every opportunity, and encourage every other citizen to consider the same action,” she said.

Anne Taylor, Cape Town

The Mercury