May 2, 2003


1. How do the new plastic bag regulations as announced by Government affect the consumer?

In accordance with a Heads of Agreement signed by Government, Labour, the Plastics Federation and representatives of retail, consumers will have to purchase all plastic shopping bags as from 9 May 2003 and retailers are no longer allowed to distribute bags of the previous thickness. The Agreement insists that retailers charge consumers for the new thicker shopping bags. The motivation for this move is to encourage recycling and reduce plastic litter, which damages and spoils the environment. Draft legislation regulating the price of shopping bags is soon to be tabled in Parliament.

2. What size bags will be available and at what price?

Shoprite, Checkers and Checkers Hyper stores will sell the following:
12L Government standard carry bags at 31c each – 30-micron
24 L Government standard carry bags at 46c each – 30-micron
Environmental bag at R1,50 each – 70 micron
A range of additional alternatives is currently being tested.

3. What will the Government bags be made from? 

High Density Poly Ethylene (HDPE) or polypropylene

4. What will retailers do with the money from the sale of shopping bags? 

Government shopping bags will be sold at cost. Money generated from the sale of shopping bags will be used to pay the suppliers of the bags and 2c of each bag purchase will be handed over to a section 21 company to fund clean-up operations and create job opportunities. The money previously spent on the thinner shopping bags will be used to reduce the price of basic foods.

5. Where will the bags be available?

Consumers will receive the shopping bags at the till point and the cost of the bags will be reflected as a separate item on the till slip.

6. Will the bags have brand names on them? 

Yes, but no more than 50% of the bag may be printed on in order to facilitate recycling. Shoprite Checkers still carries the cost of distribution and administration and can by means of this advertising tool justify and recoup the expense.

7. Can consumers use the old-type leftover bags for their groceries after 9 May? 

Yes. Shoprite Checkers will also allow consumers to bring in any other bag of their choice as long as it is empty on entering and empty when presented at the till point.

8. What are the shops doing with the leftover old bags?

Shoprite will export all thin shopping bags that remained in stores as at 9 May to its stores elsewhere in Africa.

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