Food­works trial plas­tic free shop­ping

Alpine Observer - - News -

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.

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