Local grocery retailer Pick n Pay and South African paper group Sappi have joined forces to launch an ecofriendly alternative to plastic shopping bags and spearhead a new direction in paper food packaging.
The new paper grocery bags have been engineered to ensure that the switch to more ecofriendly options does not compromise on convenience. The new bags, which are being tested at pilot sites within the retailer’s stores, offer shoppers a fully recyclable and fully biodegradable packaging option. The bags hold up to 10 kg, and have reinforced handles and a square bottom, to ensure excellent carrying capacity and convenience.
The paper for the new shopping bags is manufactured at Sappi’s Tugela mill, in KwaZulu-Natal. In addition to using timber from local tree plantations, which are all certified by the international Forestry Stewardship Council, the mill is also ISO 14001 certified, and has several other quality and safety accreditations.
The bags themselves are fully recyclable, and the fibre can be reused up to six times when blended with other new and recycled fibres. Being fully biodegradable, the bags will not release any toxic materials into the soil or water during the composting process.
Pick n Pay launched paper grocery bags in September last year to online customers for their deliveries, and introduced paper grocery bags at their new flagship store in Hurlingham, Gauteng, during October.
The new store, which is known as Pick n Pay on Nicol, will offer paper grocery bags, and a variety of paper-based packaging throughout the store. All bakery products, for example, will be packaged in paper bags, as will all fresh produce.
The delicatessen division will also make use of a range of paper-based packaging made from Sappi’s Resilio range of papers, which is not only strong and greaseproof, but also fully recyclable.
The new packaging, which has been custom- developed to meet stringent quality standards, represents the retailer’s commitment to sustainability.
“Paper has become accepted as a responsible packaging solution all over the world, and South African consumers are putting pressure on retailers to offer more sustainable packaging choices too,” Sappi Paper & Paper Packaging retail and industrial marketing manager Silvana Dimitrov says.
She notes that extensive research and development (R&D) was undertaken at the Sappi Technology Centre, situated at the Innovation Hub, in Pretoria, to find ways of making paper the packaging material of the future.
“Sappi is working with a number of companies to make the change to paper in the retail sector. “We are excited to have partnered with Pick n Pay to bring paper packaging into grocery retailing in such a significant way,” she says.
Further, Sappi states that its investment in local R&D and production capacity allows it to work closely with retailers and their packaging suppliers to develop tailor-made solutions that meet the needs of both the business and its customers.
Consumers are looking for food-safe, convenient and environmentally sound paper-packaging choices, and want to know that the paper they choose has a solid, reliable pedigree.
“During the development process, Pick n Pay and Sappi looked at issues of sustainability, the environmental impact of paper, recycling capability, biodegradability and the use of renewable energy,” Pick n Pay sustainable development director Bronwen Rohland says.
“Sappi’s governance protocols make us confident that the change to paper packaging at ‘Pick n Pay on Nicol’ is a significant step towards a more sustainable way of doing business. The two companies share a common commitment to sustainability and are proud to introduce this ground-breaking new approach to food packaging into the local market,” says Dimitrov.
“Together, we are working to reduce the impact of packaging on the environment, and we hope that Pick n Pay shoppers will lead the change to paper packaging that is sustainably produced, reusable, recyclable, biodegradable and earth friendly in South Africa,” she says.