SPAR South Africa’s Eastern Cape (EC) division has launched a campaign that aims to encourage consumers to give up plastic bags and explore alternative packaging.

The retailer announced its intention to contribute to the global fight against environmental pollution due to the ever-growing number of plastic bags threatening the oceans.

Spar EC managing director Conrad Isaac said: “We believe that safeguarding our environment and the future are often spoken about but not much is done.

“As the biggest food retailer in the Eastern Cape, I believe we have to take care of the health and wellbeing of the communities in which we operate.”

“For now we are focusing on plastic bags, but if we can change the habits of the communities, we will be contributing to a cause with real benefits for society.”

As part of the campaign, the retailer is encouraging shoppers to switch to paper bags and gave away free recyclable bags to shoppers for every ten plastic shopping bags brought to any one of its Eastern Cape stores.

The waterproof bags are reusable, wax-lined and have the capacity to carry 12kg.

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Under the initiative, the retailer placed an initial order of 300,000 paper bags in a bid to accommodate the demand.

Non-profit environmental organisation Zwartkops Conservancy environmental manager Jenny Rump said: “The problem with plastic is that it is not biodegradable and, consequently, it never disappears.

“For now we are focusing on plastic shopping bags, but if we can change the habits of the communities over time, we will be contributing to a cause with real benefits for our society.”