SPAR South Africa’s initiatives to further reduce plastic waste

March 14, 2024 IN THE CATEGORY: Environment, Responsible retailing

SPAR South Africa has implemented a variety of initiatives to reduce the environmental impacts of plastic waste. As one of the founding members of the South African Plastic Pact, SPAR South Africa has made great steps in this area. Recently, the retailer confirmed it had recycled 19,000 tonnes of cardboard and plastic through reverse logistics operations in 2023.

Sustainable product design

Designing packaging with recycled material content and ensuring that it can be further reused or recycled helps to minimise the amount of waste ending up in landfills, as well as the of leaking microplastics into our oceans, lakes, and rivers.   

Currently, all SPAR South Africa purchased carrier bags are made from recycled materials with a minimum of 70% post-consumer waste content. The bags are also 100% recyclable, helping to divert about 4,000 tonnes of plastic waste from landfills every year. Other packaging, such as brown plastic bottles, is also being recycled into reusable SPAR shopping bags. In the long-term, SPAR South Africa plans to establish recycling stations where used bags could be repurposed into blankets.  

Furthermore, recycled packaging changes have been implemented for SPAR milk products. SPAR 2L Fresh Milk cartons are 100% recyclable and made from 87% renewably sourced materials. The cartons also feature information about the circular economy, educating shoppers on ways they can participate in recycling. Coloured lids on SPAR Fresh Milk plastic bottles were replaced with white lids, making the packaging easier to recycle. In addition, end waste was minimised through a partnership with a local firm which develops trolleys from recycled milk bottles.  

For aligning their efforts with circular economy principles, SPAR South Africa received the Platinum Design Award in the SAPRO Recycled Plastics Product Awards toward the end of 2023.  

Complex issue

The company recognises the complexity of the issue, noting that recycling alone will not solve the plastic waste crisis. Achieving the targets that the retailer has set for itself will mean making tough decisions and investing heavily, but they are prepared to do this.   

The company invited other retailers to join plastic reduction initiatives to encourage more significant waste reduction across the retail sector. SPAR spokesperson says that if retailers of all sizes throughout the country would do the same, the retail sector’s contribution to plastic waste would reduce significantly and the impact on the environment would improve.  

Source: SPAR South Africa

Read more about SPAR South Africa.

About SPAR South Africa

SPAR South Africa was established in 1963. It operates four retail formats: SPAR neighbourhood, SPAR Express (operated in conjunction with Shell as a petrol forecourt store), KWIKSPAR (which focuses on convenience in city centres and high footfall locations), and SUPERSPAR Supermarkets (similar to EUROSPAR in offer). 

SPAR South Africa grants sub-licences to independent retailers to operate stores under one of the four formats, with almost all the current store portfolio being independently owned.