Shopping bag alternatives

Published: FY2020

Helping to save our planet one
bag at a time.

  • Natural capital
  • MM: Maintaining a low cost of doing business
  • BBB: Environmental protection

With more than 800 000 m2 of floor space in stores, PEP accounts for almost 50% of the group’s store footprint. Electricity is the highest contributor to direct emissions in this business and the group.

Brands across the group are making inroads into developing alternative shopping bag solutions.
During FY20, PEP and Refinery rolled out their initiatives with great success.

Refinery stopped using plastic bags altogether. They concluded a cost and implementation analysis, in which they investigated the viability vs the cost vs the solutions that were available in-market. All their shopping bags will be made in South Africa, made only from reusable material or recycled paper. Not only will the bags be sustainable, but also use material that could have ended up in landfills.

Having moved to paper bags, which costs less than their previous plastic alternatives, for the summer season only, Refinery would have spared the planet from an additional 550 000 plastic bags.

‘It is important for us as a brand to be seen to do the right thing when it comes to saving our planet for future generations. It is the beginning of the journey, and we have many challenges to face before becoming fully sustainable,’ says Shaun Hoddy, CEO of Refinery.

In general terms, there is contention between perception and fact when it comes to the use of plastic bags – whether it is single use or recyclable. Despite the market perception or research, PEP decided to do the right thing. With our rebrand, we also introduced our new look and new recycled plastic shopping bags. Our customers still need bags, and cannot afford to buy expensive shopping bags. PEP’s full year’s supply of plastic bags will use 1 000 tonnes of post-consumable plastic waste. This is plastic that, instead of going to landfill, is cleaned and used by our suppliers as raw material for the new PEP shopping bags.

These bags are also already 100% compliant with the government’s regulations for plastic bags, set to be in place by 2028.

All PEP stores have energy-efficient LED lighting, and all plastic bags are made from 100% recycled material, keeping PEP’s store-based environmental impact as low as possible.