Picture:Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - Pick n Pay on Thursday launched plastic waste awareness campaign to encourage positive consumer behaviour at a event in Cape Town.

Pick n Pay’s director for Transformation, Suzanne Ackerman-Berman said consumers have become increasingly concerned about plastic waste, adding that if South Africans want to experience a real shift in behaviour and make a sustainable long-term impact to the environment, they need to reinforce the message of "reduce, reuse and recycle".

Ackerman-Berman said Pick n Pay unveiled its life-size rhino sculpture which was creatively decorated with plastic waste designed by local artist, Heath Nash, known for his ability to re purpose post-consumer plastic waste into artwork and innovative products.

"Many consumers remain unaware about the unintentional harm they may be causing to the environment by not recycling, re-using, or repurposing plastic. We wanted to visually show consumers the type of plastic that feeds into our oceans and environment every day and that these items can be repurposed if recycled."

The rhino will be displayed at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town – one of the continent’s most visited destinations – for the next three-months, and visitors will be invited to participate with the artist in the completion of the installation. 

"The rhino is one of our country’s biggest draw cards. We wanted to grab visitors’ attention to the plight of plastic waste our environment is facing, while also raising awareness for South African’s endangered rhinos: #MoreRhinoLessPlastic," said Ackerman-Berman.

In June, Pick n Pay announced a set of focused initiatives to reduce plastic waste and remains as committed to leading change in plastic usage and possible alternatives by actively working with its partners and suppliers.

Ackerman-Berman said the retailer has started phasing out plastic straws with paper straws and this was expected to be completed by the end of December. Pick n Pay ear buds with paper inners have also been introduced in-store. Their new blue recyclable plastic carrier bag made from 100 percent recycled material with a bold message of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle on the bag was also being introduced into all stores nationally. 

"We’ve also introduced a unique range of new 100 percent RPET reusable bags, in addition to the Township Group Bottle Bag," said Ackerman-Berman.

The company also undertook a unique one-day, one-store pilot project to raise awareness and see how customers responded to compostable bags and cardboard boxes as an alternative to plastic bags. 

"As there are no integrated large-scale composting facilities available in South Africa, rolling out a compostable bag project on a large scale isn’t yet feasible in South Africa. But, we have extended the pilot on the cardboard box to six stores in the Western Cape and the uptake has been very positive. Later this year, we will also trial paper bags in select stores."

"While it isn’t possible to change behaviour overnight, we will continue to work with our customers to introduce alternative options and measure our efforts so that we can drive feasible options that will drive real, long-term sustainable change both for our environment and our customers," concluded Ackerman-Berman.

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African News Agency (ANA)