Customers not rapt about wrapped veg

Tamra CarrGeraldton Guardian
Supermarkets still use plastic to wrap certain fruits and vegetables.
Camera IconSupermarkets still use plastic to wrap certain fruits and vegetables. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian

Woolworths banned the bag 10 days ahead of the State Government’s July 1 ending of single-use plastic carriers, but many people remain unconvinced about the supermarket giant’s commitment to reducing plastic.

On social media, local shoppers have condemned Woolies, Coles and competitors for what they consider needless wrapping of fruit and vegetables.

So far, more than 391,328 people have signed an online petition which urges major players in food retail to stop wrapping small portions of herbs, vegetables and fruit in plastic and styrofoam.

Woolworths responded to critics, pledging to cut back on plastic wrap. “While our move to phase out single-use shopping bags nationwide from June 20 is a big step forward, we know there is much more work to be done to reduce plastic right across our business,” a spokeswoman said.

“In recent months we have permanently removed plastic wrapping from produce lines such as avocado, organic spring onions, celery, kale and English spinach, and we have plans to do even more throughout 2018.”

In the case of Woolies, it is understood packaging is used to protect quality and extend shelf life of fruit and vegetables being transported from farms.

According to the company, a plastic-wrapped continental cucumber lasts three times longer than an unwrapped one.

Despite sweet potatoes being a sturdy vegetable, Woolworths maintains a layer of plastic gives them an additional seven to 10 days life.

The supermarket will trial removal of plastic packaging on a further 80 lines over the next year, building on 140 tonnes of plastic saved in the fruit and vegetables range in the past 12 months.

According to State Environment Minister Stephen Dawson, people in WA use 670 million lightweight plastic shopping bags every year.

Most end up in landfill, but more than seven million dropped as litter.

The ban officially came into effect on Sunday, July 1.

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