Foodworks trial plastic free shopping
EVER since the ABC program ‘War on Waste’ was aired, public awareness of the damage caused by plastic in the environment has become widespread.
Nick and Karen Cook, who own Foodworks supermarkets in Mt Beauty, Yackandandah, Falls Creek and Myrtleford have responded by running a trial stoppage of single-use plastic bags at their Yackandandah store with a view to introducing the policy at their other branches.
Mr Cook said they had been thinking about the change for some time.
“It started when we installed solar panels at Yackandandah,” he said.
“At 80 kilowatts it’s the largest system in the town, and we now have similar systems in Myrtleford and Mt Beauty.”
After a community survey the Cooks found that 80 per cent of the Yackandandah community are in favour of banning the bag.
“There is still a section of the community who are opposed; mostly those who want to keep using them as garbage bags,” Mr Cook said.
For one month the Cooks offered a free re-useable bag with sales of over $40, and offered free paper bags.
“Unfortunately, although they break down, paper bags cost us 10 – 15 cents each, and have a greater carbon footprint than the plastic bags, and we now have to charge for them.
“We planned to run the trial at Yackandandah for six months before rolling the changes out in our other stores, but with Coles and Woolworths announcing that they are going to bite the bullet, I think those changes will now come sooner rather than later.
“We are very happy that the big retailers have made the decision prior to legislation because it levels the playing field.”
Up until now the Mt Beauty Foodworks has been issuing about 450,000 single-use plastic bags a year.
Mr Cook said that the issue of plastic packaging for meat and greengroceries is much more of a problem.
“We could possibly eliminate the use of produce bags, but there is a difficult balance between hygiene and food safety standards and trying to maximise the benefit to the environment.
“For this next step there needs to be some industry innovation in terms of packaging to move us further.”
Re- useable bags are available for shoppers, but Mr Cook emphasises that they are not a profit-making item.
“We would never charge more for them than what we pay, but if you don’t charge people do not assign a value to them and will not re-use them.”
REDUCING PLASTICS: Karen and Nick Cook of Mt Beauty Foodworks are gradually offering alternatives to single-use plastic bags in their stores.