Woolies considers BYO containers for customers

WOOLWORTHS is considering letting shoppers bring in their own Tupperware for meat and fish after scrapping single-use plastic bags.

If given the green light, it could see the grocery giant adopt a similar approach to the UK's fourth largest supermarket chain, which has started rewarding customers who bring their own containers to cut down plastic packaging.

The Daily Telegraph understands Woolworths is weighing up the benefits of Tupperware containers to reduce meat packaging after controversially removing plastic bags from supermarkets to help save the environment.

"This is not something we offer at the moment due to food safety and operational reasons, but we are always looking for new ways to help customers reduce plastic consumption across our stores," a Woolworths spokesman said.

It follows Morrisons Supermarkets' announcement it would give UK shoppers the option of having their raw meat and fish weighed at the counter and then placed into the shoppers' own containers.

 

Woolies recently got rid of plastic bags from their stores. Picture: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images
Woolies recently got rid of plastic bags from their stores. Picture: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

 

Customers who do so are rewarded with 100 loyalty card points - the equivalent of 10p or almost 20 cents - and receive a sticker for their container from the fishmonger or butcher that can be scanned at checkout.

However, it's understood Woolworths is concerned about potential contamination risks of bringing non-sterilised containers into meat, seafood and deli departments.

There are also issues around "accurate taring", which is the deduction from the gross weight made in allowance for the weight of a container. This can be done consistently when containers weigh the same but becomes problematic when customers bring in their own.

Coles was less receptive, saying it "does not allow customers to bring in their own containers to use as it poses a health and safety risk".

 

Coles was less receptive of the BYO container idea. Picture: AAP Image/Claudia Baxter
Coles was less receptive of the BYO container idea. Picture: AAP Image/Claudia Baxter

 

"It also makes it very difficult for us to do a thorough investigation if a customer becomes ill and we are unsure where the container used came from," a spokeswoman said.

"However, Coles is actively working to reduce waste and landfill through a variety of initiatives, such as removing single-use plastic bags from all Coles supermarkets on July 1."

Woolworths was forced to defend itself yesterday after its plastic bag ban was likened to "religion" and the scientific argument backing it up "unpersuasive". It said it was informed by a 2014 CSIRO report that found 20 per cent of wildlife entanglements were caused by plastics, including plastic bags.