We are excited to announce that SPAR Western Cape & Namibia have joined the Two Oceans Aquarium's Rethink the Bag campaign and are officially taking action, making changes to drastically reduce single-use plastic shopping bags.

On 2 July, SPAR held a press conference at the Two Oceans Aquarium announcing the launch of their "No Plastic, No Problem" campaign to do their part in curbing the pollution caused by single-use plastic shopping bags. SPAR has been a long time partner of the Aquarium's conservation and education efforts, and we were excited by this news as we begin Plastic Free July.

Mario Santana, MD of SPAR Western Cape and Namibia, announced that not one plastic bag will be sold in SPAR stores throughout the Western Cape and Namibia tomorrow, 3 July 2018, as part of International Plastic Shopping Bag Free Day. He said that the supermarket group wants to place even more emphasis on finding alternative solutions to the problem of plastic. “As one of SA’s leading retailers, we have a huge role to play in changing the culture around the use of plastic in-store. It’s no longer a question of if we should add our voice to the global commitment to reduce, reuse and recycle – but how.”

The event was opened by SPAR WC & Namibia Promotions and Advertising Manager Robert Brink who introduced the campaign and welcomed the attendees - owners of various Cape Town SPAR branches, media partners and, of course, Two Oceans Aquarium Environmental Campaigner Hayley McLellan. Hayley took to the stage, highlighting the facts - plastic pollution is everywhere in the ocean, from the beaches of Bali to the food we eat. It is a global problem and we need to be part of a global solution.

Managing Director of SPAR Western Cape & Namibia Mario Santana then took the stage. "Plastic is a design failure," stated Mario - drawing attention to the fact that we have created a product that is used once and then thrown away, yet leaves a permanent presence in our environment. "There are more than five trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean. That's as many pieces as there are stars in the galaxy - 25 times over!" continued Mario.

SPAR WC & Namibia acknowledges the role it has played in contributing to the more than eight billion single-use plastic shopping bags used by South Africans every year - the vast majority of which are not even recyclable. Last year they alone sold more than 68 million single-use plastic bags and, as Mario Santana put it, that's "68 million reasons why SPAR are committed to this."

SPAR's "No Plastic, No Problem" campaign launches today by making new options available to consumers, and by encouraging the following five behavioural changes in their shoppers:

  1. Bring your own shopping bag.
  2. Buy a brown SPAR paper bag.
  3. Buy a SPAR canvas reusable bag.
  4. Carry your groceries to your car without a bag.
  5. And, only as a last resort, buy a plastic bag. SPAR WC & Namibia have announced that their bags are now fully recyclable and urge people that resort to this option to reuse their bags many times before recycling.

In addition to this Santana announced the introduction of fully recyclable (8% chalk) bags in Western Cape and Namibian stores. This will ensure that any bags sold in SPAR stores will be fully recyclable.

SPAR WC & Namibia have joined the growing community of South African retailers who are seeing the danger of single-use plastic items and are taking steps to face this growing risk to our planet. This call to make a difference follows on the heels of plans to phase out plastic shopping bags by SPAR Eastern Cape and a complete elimination of single-use bags by Bargain Books. Recently, several Cape Town schools have declared themselves plastic-bag free zones and the Rethink the Bag cause is growing from strength to strength.

These are exciting times for our ocean and we look forward to seeing what other retailers have in store this Plastic Free July!

Don't forget to make your own #RethinkTheBag pledge!

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