Shoppers have yet again taken aim at Woolworths to express their dismay at its use of excessive plastic to package items that don’t necessarily require it.
Sliced apples sold in individually wrapped “mini packs” are the latest source of anger, with a customer taking to Facebook on Saturday using some choice words to express his frustration.
“What the f*** are you doing Woolworths? Apples last for days in their skin,” he wrote.
“Woolies is individually wrapping cut slices in plastic and wrapping the entire thing again in more plastic for kids lunchboxes...They still don’t get it. How out of touch are these morons?.”
He wasn’t the only one annoyed by the practice, with several others weighing in on the topic, including one accusing the supermarket of “killing the environment”.
“Not smart Woolworths. The people that come up with these ideas are killing the environment,” they wrote.
Another labeled it “ridiculous” while someone else said it was disappointing there were parents actually buying the product to put in their kids’ lunchboxes.
Someone else made the seemingly sarcastic remark that they preferred the sliced apples because “biting it into smaller pieces is too much effort”.
Despite regular complaints of this nature, the retail giant continues to defend its style of packaging claiming the plastic encased fruit helped it reduce overall wastage.
“Most produce will be available loose for purchase as we know both options appeal to different customers, with many taking advantage of pre-packed versions to better manage budgets at the checkout,” an employee wrote in a comment to a previous complaint.
“The packaging on produce helps with reducing 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 retailer claimed it was “working hard” to reduce plastic packaging, just as its customers had called on it to do.
“Over the last two years, we have removed around 1000 tonnes of plastic from our fruit and vegetables and bakery ranges,” a spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.
“We have also rolled out REDcycle facilities in all our stores, which allows customers to return soft plastics, including fruit and veg packaging, to our stores for recycling.
“We recognise there is more to do, and will continue to look for new ways to reduce plastic packaging across our range. As we do this, we will be careful to monitor the impact on food waste.”
Marketing expert at the University of Technology Sydney Dr David Waller told Yahoo News Australia in October that the concept, aimed at kids to help increase their fruit consumption, was “a good idea but poorly executed”.
“It’s another example that Woolworths is being inconsistent with their message,” Dr Waller said.
“They take away single-use plastic bags, but then they sell bags for 15 cents, then they talk about being green, and reducing plastic, but then give away plastic toys.”
He added while it was positive to encourage children to engage in healthy eating, Woolworths needed to be “careful to make sure they are following up on what they say they do.”
Why is mini fruit packaged in plastic?
Dr Waller said Woolworths likely packaged mini fruit in this way to target children, as their size is suitable to fill lunch boxes.
“They probably would’ve thought that by aiming at a kid’s market, mothers would love them. There are even many reviews from parents saying they enjoy using them,” he said.
On the contrary, he said lots of people had complained about the unnecessary use of plastic and urged the supermarket to sell the fruit loose or at least use a biodegradable material.
“I think they should continue with the campaign to get more kids to eat fruit, but leave them as unpacked fruit, or have them in recyclable mesh or brown paper bags,” Dr Waller said.
“Rather than having just five in a bag, let people individually pick them up and choose how many they want.”
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