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Woolworths, please.. drastically reduce your consumption of plastics!

This petition had 4,843 supporters

Rs Woolworths,  we don’t want plastic any more!

Scientists estimate that about 8 million tons of plastic debris such as food packaging and plastic bottles are being washed into the oceans each year – and the cumulative quantity of waste will result in a tenfold increase in the total amount of plastic in the sea by 2020.

“Our estimate of 8 million metric tons going into the oceans in 2010 is the equivalent to five grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world,” said Jenna Jambeck, assistant professor of environmental engineering at the University of Georgia.

We appreciate the fact that Woolworths has positioned itself as a leader in environmentally-friendly and responsible shopping in South Africa. We are also aware of Woolworths’ attempts to use recycled or partly recycled plastic, provide alternatives to plastic shopping bags, and provide customers with an environmentally friendly yet attractive experience. However, as consumers we would like to see Woolworths stepping up to a higher mark, and taking the lead in eliminating all plastic packaging as far as possible.

While we understand that plastic is light and preserves perishables well, we feel that the cost benefits are vastly outweighed by the damage to our oceans, which are now under unprecedented plastics waste attack. Plastic is killing eco-systems, polluting our foodchain, and slowly chocking the fauna and flora of the oceans which are the lungs of our planet. We are a world in crisis.

We have two requests for your consideration:

First and foremost we urge Woolworths to stop selling slow-perishing whole produce wrapped in plastic.

Many of the fruits and vegetables which, previously, were left on greengrocers’ shelves as they were, now come wrapped in plastic by default. Not only is this unnecessary (and, we can confidently assert, actually encourages perishables to rot faster due to condensation) it removes consumer choice about whether or not to purchase packaging and exacerbates the culture of ubiquitous plastic use. Also, while it is admittedly a very small market segment, the writers of this petition are aware that consumers in our immediate and extended circles (at dinner gatherings / on facebook pages / on twitter) detest this practice.

Secondly, we request that Woolworths encourage suppliers to use glass bottles and jars instead of plastic containers wherever possible:

We are aware of the argument that it takes more fuel to produce and transport glass. However environmental damage cannot be measured in greenhouse gas emissions alone. Plastic is a permanent, ecosystem-destroying pollutant in a class of its own, and when one takes into account the carbon footprint of plastics production, increased transportation costs start looking like a small price to pay:

The carbon footprint of plastic (LDPE or PET, polyethylene) is about 6 kg CO2 per kg of plastic.

The production of 1 kg of polyethylene (PET or LDPE), requires the equivalent of 2 kg of oil for energy and raw material. Polyethylene PE is the most commonly used plastic for plastic bags.

Burning 1 kg of oil creates about 3 kg of carbon dioxide. In other words: Per kg of plastic, about 6 kg carbon dioxide is created during production and incineration.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. We sincerely hope that you will consider implementing our suggestions / requests.


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