Woolworths is being blasted for sending mixed messages to customers about its single-use plastic bag ban.
Just over a year ago the supermarket giant vowed to take 3.2 billion single-use plastic bags out of circulation each year as it moved towards a sustainable future.
However, customers this week have been posting images to Facebook questioning whether Woolworths could cut down on plastic even further.
One photo posted on the supermarket’s Facebook page shows pears and apples wrapped in plastic, placed under a sign that says: “Help us help the environment. Remember to bring your reusable bags.”
“Ummm kinda sending a mixed message here,” one customer said before adding the hashtag #somuchplastic.
Other customers have slammed the packaging of one product in particular – five mini packs of apples individually wrapped in plastic and packaged together in a larger plastic bag.
“Woolworths this is absolutely shameful,” one woman said.
Another claimed it was “plastiception”.
One customer who also posted a photo of the apple snacks described it as “insane”.
“You may have stopped giving out single-use plastic bags at the checkout, but selling products like this with five completely useless pieces of plastic inside one larger useless piece of plastic is insane,” she wrote.
Another claimed the packaging made the no-plastic bag policy a “waste of time”.
“Do we really need to over wrap every thing?” he questioned.
Woolworths wrote on its Facebook page the packaging helped reduce food waste.
“Packaging protects the quality and extends the shelf life of fruit and vegetables as they’re transported from the farm, to the store and to our customers,” the supermarket said.
“For example, a plastic wrapped continental cucumber lasts three times longer than an unwrapped continental cucumber.”
One customer hit back at Woolworths, saying it was “not really good enough”.
“I’d rather have cucumbers that last less than awful plastics for 100 years,” she said.
Woolworths’ commitment to remove unnecessary packaging
A Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia it was working hard to reduce plastic in stores.
“While the removal of single-use plastic bags from all stores nationwide was an important step, it’s certainly not the end of our sustainability efforts,” the spokesperson said.
“Over the last 18 months we have removed more than 500 tonnes of unnecessary plastic packaging across our produce and bakery categories.
“We’ve also rolled out REDcycle facilities in stores across the country, which allows customers to return soft plastics from fruit and vegetables to our stores to be recycled.”
Woolworths says it has repurposed almost 500 tonnes of soft plastics into useful items like outdoor furniture and benches for community groups and stores.
“We know there is more to do, and we will continue to work on plastic reduction efforts and support the development of a circular economy.”
In the past 12 months the supermarket has issued about three billion fewer plastic bags from its stores.
This is a 4700 tonne reduction in single-use plastics going into the environment every year.
Woolworths has so far removed plastic wrapping from organic spring onions, celery bunches, kale and organic bananas.
Stone fruit and apple punnets have also been switched from plastic to recyclable cardboard and Woolworths has introduced new pulp-based packaging for a number of bakery products.
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