THE Shoprite Group, the only national retailer with a verified 100% recycled shopping bag in all its stores, has announced that it will now be rewarding customers for using their newly-introduced “planet” bags in both Shoprite and Checkers stores.Made from 100% recycled and recyclable plastic, the bigger and stronger planet bags retail for R3 each, but every time a customer re-uses the bag, they get 50c off their grocery purchase. It is 70 microns (compared to the 24 microns for standard 24l plastic bags) and will last for many shopping trips.Changing consumer behaviour by rewarding customers for re-using bags is a critical part of the retailer’s efforts to reduce plastic waste. In 2013 the Shoprite Group became the first South African retailer to introduce recycled and recyclable plastic shopping bags in its Checkers stores. Today these are available at all Checkers, Shoprite and Usave stores nationally.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. With an estimated 2 million bags thrown away every minute globally, and with just five percent of people re-using their shopping bags, the Shoprite Group is committed to cleaning up the planet while creating new consumer behaviour and saving customers money. After hearing about this initiative, one local customer, Chombi Ngobo, said: “If you are a frequent shopper at the store, then you score as in this way, the bag will pay for itself, in six uses you have a bag for life. This also elevate the issue of pollution as plastic is said to take the longest to break down. The carbon footprint will be considerably less. In this way both man and the planet scores.”The Group has a zero waste-to-landfill approach and is committed to reducing waste in its operations. To this end, it has: *Recycled 3 225 tons of plastic and 26 859 tons of cardboard and white paper. *Diverted 103 tons of plastic waste from landfill since February 2017 by using food-safe post-consumer waste to replace 25% of the virgin polyethylene terephthalate (PET) material in the bottles, making it the first carbonated drink to contain this percentage of recycled PET material. The Zip Cola bottle was named Recycled Product of the Year at the 2018 Petco Awards, which recognise recycling and waste management excellence in the industry. *Used recyclable material in almost 60% of the packaging used for fruit and vegetables including punnets, trays, bags, pockets and cartons. *Introduced fully biodegradable and compostable avo containers for all of its Ripe & Ready avo punnets — the first South African retailer to do so. (Products recognised as biodegradable and compostable have to be 90% biodegraded within three-six months of composting.) *Packaging of all broccoli, cauliflower, mixed cauliflower/broccoli, baby marrows, patty pans, baby gems, squash variety and fruit packs will also switch to fully biodegradable and compostable containers from early November. *This will reduce the retailer’s use of foam punnets by 3,5 million punnets per annum.