South Africa – retailers prepare to comply with new legislation on plastic bags

South Africa’s major retailers had no alternative but to comply with new legislation on plastic bags to be introduced early in May, they said yesterday, although Pick ‘n Pay would introduce its own “green bag” as an alternative.



SA Online Business Report notes that the new legislation, which becomes law on May 9, requires manufacturers to produce thicker plastic bags that last longer, to encourage the repeat use of bags as well as recycling.



Consumers will have to pay 40c a bag for the government-regulated plastic bags, which will come in different sizes, with the cost the same at all major food retailers and their outlets. A levy included in the price will go towards special environmental projects and education through a section 21 company that is still to be set up.



Pick ‘n Pay chief executive Sean Summers said the food group would introduce its own green bag as an alternative to cut the overall cost for consumers. The retailer was also determined to convince the government to zero-rate the new bags, which were set to attract VAT. “Had we not taken our strong cost-related view to government, consumers would be paying over R1 a bag rather than the 40c [without VAT] the government will now be mandating,” Summers said. Based on the group’s internal research, it would introduce an ergonomically designed, reusable green bag before the legislation was introduced . It believed its own bag was a cost-effective alternative for customers. Summers said: “Customers will have four choices as of May 9: they can bring their own bags, they can pay for government-regulated plastic bags, they can carry their own groceries without bags or they can buy one of our reusable green bags.”



Consumer goods council chief executive August Iwanski said the new legislation was a compromise between the government, the Plastics Federation, trade unions and retailers, who had been talking since March last year. “We actively support recycling and have worked closely with the government and the major retailers to ensure a compromise that has the least impact on consumers,” Iwanski said.



In addition to Pick ‘n Pay’s alternative, Italian company Novamont is looking for a local company to manufacture biodegradable carrier bags made from maize starch that turn into compost within a few days of being filled with kitchen waste. The bags are in widespread use in Europe, where they form part of municipal collection systems that separate organic waste from recyclable materials.

Ano da Publicação: 2003
Fonte: WARMER BULLETIN ENEWS #12-2003: April 7, 2003
Autor: Kit Strange (Warmer Bulletin)
Email do Autor: kit@residua.com

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