Shopping with the future in mind

Published: FY2023

PEP has rolled out 100% recyclable bags and canvas bags in an effort to reduce plastic waste.

PEP, the leading low cost retailer within the Pepkor group and the largest single-brand retailer in South Africa, leapfrogged regulatory deadlines by converting plastic carrier bags to be 100% recyclable across its footprint of more than 2 600 stores.

The recyclable plastic carrier bags were phased in from August 2020, as part of PEP’s conscious decision to remove single-use plastic shopping bags from stores.

This has placed PEP ahead of the latest amendments to the Plastic Carrier Bags and Plastic Flat Bags Regulations, which will require all plastic bags to be made from 100% post-consumer recyclate by 1 January 2027.

It is alarming to comprehend that even today, 50% of plastic still ends up in landfill sites in South Africa – according to the most recent National State of Waste Report (2017), published by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.

The regulation amendments are an extension of the Plastic Carrier Bags and Plastic Flat Bags Regulations under the National Environmental Management Act, 1998, which were put in place to address the high levels of plastic pollution in the country, especially from objects like thin plastic bags that cannot be reused and are difficult to recycle.

As a retailer that cares, PEP’s mission therefore became very practical – giving their customers more shopping bag choices to suit their needs and their pockets. Customers are welcome to bring their own bags, or they can purchase either a reusable canvas bag or a plastic bag made from 100% recycled material – both at a very competitive low price.

For PEP, which serves more than a million customers daily, encouraging customers to reduce and reuse something as simple as a shopping bag has the potential to make a significant positive impact in reducing waste and our carbon footprint to help create a more sustainable future.