Woolworths customer issues store plastics challenge

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·News Reporter
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A Woolworths customer has challenged the supermarket giant to expand their loose fruit and vegetable offering across its stores.

The shopper took to the Woolworths Facebook page to post a photo of loose cherry and grape tomatoes displayed in bowls, alongside loose cucumbers and capsicum, which was taken in a Melbourne store.

“This is fantastic, will it be rolled out Australia wide?” she wrote in her post.

“And will other fruits and veg follow suit (such as strawberries and grapes)?” she asked.

A shopper's photo shows a display of loose tomatoes.
A customer has challenged Woolworths on their plastics policy. Source: Facebook

A Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia that they have “introduced new market-style displays to showcase an increased range of tomatoes and potatoes”.

“The majority of our fruit and veg is sold loose and we’re always looking for opportunities to reduce packaging across our range,” said the spokesperson.

“We've heard great feedback from customers and will consider opportunities to offer a greater range of loose produce in other stores.”

Woolworths making inroads to scrap plastics

Woolworths has already made significant inroads to eliminate plastics from their stores, including joining the Plastic Pact, which sees them commit to making all their plastics recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

Shoppers will nary find a single-use plastic bag in sight in Woolworths stores, because the supermarket banned them in 2018.

This move resulted in the removal of 5.9 billion single-use plastic bags from circulation in the first year, which was one small step toward a “greener future”.

Woolworths also removed a total of 890 tonnes of plastic from its fruit, vegetables and bakery ranges over the past two years.

Amidst growing pressure from customers who criticised the supermarket’s “excessive packaging” of fresh produce, Woolworths announced a number of initiatives to further reduce plastic across a broader range of fruit and vegetables, such as bananas and broccolini.

As a result of the initiatives – which have removed a further 237 tonnes of plastic packaging in the last year – broccolini tags are now paper, plastic film has been reduced by 30 per cent on carrots and potatoes, and plastic trays inside packaged sweet potatoes, tomatoes and apples have been replaced with pulp fibre or cardboard alternatives. 

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said that the supermarket is passionate about making sustainable choices and remains as committed to a greener future as ever.

“While we’ve made pleasing progress in reducing the amount of plastic in our stores, supported recycling labelling initiatives, and made improvements in energy efficiency, sustainable sourcing and reducing food waste, we know there is still much more to be done to meet our customers and our own aspirations,” said Mr Banducci.

Shopper calls Woolworths ‘part of the problem’

It’s no secret that despite making significant changes to eliminate plastics in their stores, Woolworths still have a ways to go before they are plastic-free.

Woolworths have faced a barrage of criticism from customers over the years who claim the supermarket’s continued use of plastic packaging for fresh produce is “out of touch” and “beyond wrong”.

A Woolies shopper took to Facebook to call out the supermarket for their excessive use of plastic packaging, which she alleged “is increasing.”

“If you're not part of the solution you are part of the problem,” she wrote on the Woolworths Facebook page, alongside a photo of various vegetables in separate plastic containers in a fridge.

Woolworths responded to the post saying that they work hard to address products that are “over-packaged” and are currently running trials in stores to “reduce plastic packaging”.

“While some packaging​ will continue, to preserve the life or extend the shelf life of a product, we're committed to actively pursuing packaging alternatives.”

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