SPAR targets plastic waste reduction

November 21, 2018 IN THE CATEGORY: Environment, Feature articles, Responsible retailing

As the world’s largest voluntary food retailer, SPAR understands it is in a position to make a significant contribution towards the reduction of plastic waste. Addressing one of the biggest challenges faced globally, independent SPAR Partners are setting targets and implementing various initiatives focusing on the use of plastics and the reduction thereof.

By reviewing the full supply chain, from sourcing to end consumer, SPAR seeks to reduce its footprint on the environment. The SPAR ‘Global Yet Local’ approach enables partners and retailers to maximize their impacts as solutions are tailored to the needs of individual markets. In all areas of focus on plastic waste reduction, we strive to commit to a circular economy.

Switching to sustainable alternatives

Across SPAR, significant steps are being taken towards switching out plastics for sustainable alternatives. A specific focus has been placed on plastic produce bags for the fresh produce sections and plastic carrier bags for the check-out counters. Due to the significant role these items have on the environment as plastic waste, SPAR Partners have begun making available alternatives for consumers such as paper bags, biodegradable or compostable bags, and reusable/long-life bags.

Recent initiatives include:

  • SPAR South Africa introduced a new brown paper carrier bag, a woven carrier bag, and a large carrier bag across its South Rand, North Rand and Lowveld divisions. Kick-started by the #ReThinktheBag campaign launch by SPAR Eastern Cape, SPAR South Africa is leading the way to remove plastic carrier bags in their market.
  • SPAR Austria have introduced paper bags for fruits and vegetables as an alternative to plastic bags in all INTERSPAR stores, as well as reusable polyester produce drawstring nets across all SPAR stores nationwide. SPAR Austria also offers reusable carrier bags and most recently has launched the first bio based long-life bag which is also biodegradable after use.
  • SPAR Zimbabwe introduced paper carrier bags sourced from SPAR South Africa. When the first consignment sold out in less than a week, local government and manufacturers expressed interest in working together to find viable local solutions.
  • SPAR Sri Lanka now offers reusable and washable drawstring produce nets to customers shopping in their inaugural store, with plans to retain this solution as more stores open.

With the increase in food-to-go solutions available in our stores, SPAR is looking to reduce the environmental footprint in the daily operation of coffee corners and deli’s. The focus is on replacing single use plastic in this area, with SPAR Partners keen to offer customers the same quality products in a more sustainable way. As part of this initiative in their market, SPAR Ireland introduced 100% compostable and biodegradable coffee cups in all SPAR and EUROSPAR markets, which it estimates will prevent 19 million coffee cups from going to landfill.

Redesigning Packaging

As packaging design can play a key role in the reduction of plastic waste, SPAR Partners have begun analysing and working closely with suppliers to reduce product packaging or incorporate sustainable materials. The reduction of packaging has mainly targeted fresh products and non-food items, whilst incorporating sustainable packaging has become a centre of focus in the further development of SPAR Own Brand products.

Recent initiatives include:

SPAR Norway’s recent investment into SPAR Snoraya, an environmentally friendly store built for the future, which incorporates a focus on reducing the use of plastic packaging across products in the store. A specific focus has been placed on the packaging for fruit and vegetables.

SPAR U.K. has revamped its eight-strong still and sparkling Silverbrook Water range with bottles made up to 51% recycled plastic. Paving the way to saving 130 tonnes of plastic every year, the SPAR Partner is looking to continue to protect the environment.

For more information about the various initiatives, please go to:


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