Finweek English Edition - - COVER -

Pick n Pay is fac­ing vo­cif­er­ous crit­i­cism from cam­paign­ers who be­lieve the com­pany is sac­ri­fic­ing its green cre­den­tials to score sales.

In an open let­ter, Rhian Bern­ing, the founder of Eco At­las, an online plat­form that al­lows con­sumers to search for “eth­i­cal” busi­nesses, be­rated Pick n Pay for a “con­niv­ing” mar­ket­ing cam­paign that has un­leashed “tiny bits of plas­tic made in China and in­di­vid­u­ally wrapped in even more plas­tic, for free no­gal, on the pop­u­lace and land­scape of SA”.

Hay­ley McLel­lan, en­vi­ron­men­tal cam­paigner at the Two Oceans Aquar­ium, has been “quite shocked” by the Sti­keez pro­mo­tion. “This pow­er­fully mar­keted cam­paign is all about in­creas­ing foot­fall – and there­fore spend − in their stores whilst ig­nor­ing the po­ten­tial en­vi­ron­men­tal cost. Once the nov­elty wears off, dis­carded Sti­keez and their as­so­ci­ated pack­ag­ing will put even more strain on South Africa’s al­ready pre­car­i­ous land­fill sites and waste is­sues in gen­eral. We also fully ex­pect to start find­ing the fig­urines in our beach clean­ing-up oper­a­tions in the fu­ture.”

In re­sponse, Pick n Pay says that Sti­keez will have a “neg­li­gi­ble en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact” and are fully re­cy­clable.

“But even if ev­ery sin­gle cus­tomer threw away ev­ery sin­gle Sti­keez into a waste bin, rather than re­cy­cling them, the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact would be very small, and would rep­re­sent just a tiny frac­tion of to­tal plas­tic waste in South Africa. In fact, we’d have to run the cam­paign for 150 years – with ev­ery sin­gle per­son who has ever got one not keep­ing or re­cy­cling them − just to make up 1% of the plas­tic sent to land­fill in any given year,” it states.

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