SPAR Zimbabwe is offering a recyclable SPAR carrier bag made from recycled SPAR UHT Milk cartons, produced entirely by hand by the Clean Marondera (CM) group.
CM is a community-based voluntary organisation working with the Zimbabwe Environmental Management Agency (EMA), local council, and the Marondera community.
The organisation aims to help local families, people with disabilities, orphans, and vulnerable children.
Bag Manufacturing Process
The cartons are retrieved from recycling collection points, cut, flattened, and cleaned thoroughly to remove any milk residues.
Once the cartons have dried, they are fitted and crocheted together.
Each bag uses nine milk cartons, providing a sustainable product out of repurposed materials and helping to reduce waste.
Milk cartons are usually difficult to recycle due to the inner foil layer, which keeps the product airtight and fresh for consumption.
The in-store initiative, which was launched in conjunction with EMA earlier in the year, is part of SPAR Zimbabwe’s ongoing drive to address the problem of litter, particularly post-consumer plastic waste.
The initiative also aims to increase community awareness and participation to reduce plastic pollution, one step at a time.
“Every time you choose to refuse a plastic bag, you are helping to reduce the use of plastic in the world. It’s a tiny step, but every step in the right direction counts”, said Shamiso Pfumayaramba, coordinator of SPAR Zimbabwe’s CSR portfolio.
To encourage customers to reduce household plastic waste, participating SPAR stores also ran an awareness campaign to give away a free, reusable SPAR Milk Bag to customers who brought in single-use plastic bags for recycling during plastic-free July activations.
SPAR was the first retail supermarket chain in the country to change to carrier bags made from 100% recycled plastic in 2017.
In 2018, they were the first in the country to introduce sustainably produced, 100% recyclable, biodegradable, and environmentally friendly SPAR paper carrier bags.
SPAR Zimbabwe is currently working with a local manufacturer to reduce the costs of producing paper carrier bags locally.
Pfumayaramba added, "People are keen to do their part to help reduce plastic pollution, but often the much lower price of a plastic carrier bag is the deciding factor in our current economy.
"We hope to find an affordable, plastic-free alternative soon. People want to be involved. Saying no to single-use plastic is a small but tangible way for them to make an active choice for the environment."