Woolworths customer questions new plastic policy in-store

A Woolworths shopper has lashed out at the retailer after discovering a concerning change in their local store’s bakery department.

Sharing their annoyance on Facebook, the customer pointed out that each of the single bread rolls is now individually wrapped in a single-use plastic bag.

The shopper from Victoria took to the Woolworths Facebook page to ask why the increase in plastic was introduced, particularly when the store has announced efforts to reduce single-use plastics across their stores.

“Your Blackburn North store has undergone a renovation but now every individual bread roll comes in its very own plastic bag!” The annoyed customer wrote alongside a picture of the bakery shelves displaying the new plastic coverings.

“Your commitment to reducing single-use plastic is seriously questionable.”

Bread on a shelf wrapped in individual bags in Woolworths.
A customer called out the retailer for excessively using single-use plastics in the bakery department. Source: Facebook

The post sparked a heated debate amongst shoppers with some saying it was clearly for health and safety reasons during the Covid pandemic, while others thought it was an unnecessary use of single-use plastic.

“No please, sneeze your Covid germs all over the single rolls,” one shopper said.

“That way is more hygienic, especially during a pandemic,” another shopper pointed out.

However, some disagreed saying there was already an excess of plastic being used across supermarkets.

“I mean: how much more plastic can our planet withstand?” another said.

“If we're concerned about hygiene, what about all the loose fruit and vegetables which people pick up, have a feel of, and then put back?” the person who wrote the original post stated.

“And this has only been introduced in the last couple of weeks since they renovated the store, and not when we were in the height of the second wave.”

Woolworths responds to excessive plastic use

A Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia the plastic bags were a temporary step, which has been taken "in response to customer feedback".

They said the goal of the move was to "provide greater confidence around hygiene" in-store.

"We’re committed to reducing plastic and have taken more than 9,000 tonnes of plastic out of our own brand packaging in the last four years," the spokesperson said.

"We appreciate your feedback and will continue to work to reduce plastic across our range."

Customers notice changes in store

Not surprisingly, customers have been calling out Woolworths for their excessive use of plastics in store for some time.

One shopper recently challenged the retailer to take the changes to fresh produce one step further by extending zero plastic use across the range.

Taking to the Woolworths Facebook page, the shopper posted a photo of loose cherry and grape tomatoes displayed in bowls, alongside loose cucumbers and capsicum, inside a Melbourne store.

The ‘market style’ display had hardly any plastic in sight.

“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.

Cherry tomatoes for sale in Woolworths.
A Melbourne shopper challenged the supermarket to continue their market-style displays without the use of plastics. Source: Facebook

A Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia that the displays were introduced to showcase the store’s 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 sustainability plan

According to the Woolworths website, the supermarket giant has already removed 600 tonnes of unnecessary plastic from their in-store bakery section.

Plastics have been replaced with reclaimed and rapidly renewable sugarcane pulp packaging which is compostable and also recyclable.

The supermarket giant’s sustainability plan looks at making significant environmental changes across their stores by 2025.

The Woolworths website says these include 100 per cent green electricity and zero food waste to landfill by 2025, net positive carbon emissions by 2050, and practicing responsible stewardship of natural resources.

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