More and more local retailers are clamping down on the use of plastic shopping bags, and now Hilton Quarry Superspar in Kwazulu-Natal has become the first in the Spar franchise's stable to ban plastic bags from its store.
Store manager Greg Gowns said they made the decision after the owner watched a video on Sky News about how plastic pollutes the oceans. The segment reported that more than eight million tonnes of plastic is thrown away each year and washed out to sea.
"It snowballed from there and, one month later, we are finding that our customers are adapting to the idea," Gowns told HuffPost SA.
"I think there is still a lot of education that needs to be done, particularly among our lower-income customers. But at the end of the day, people don't want to spend on expensive plastic bags, so it's working," he said.
As an alternative measure, the pioneering grocery store has made it possible to purchase brown bags as well as more pricey fabric carriers. They have also offered to replace fabric shopping bags that break with new ones "free of charge".
"The paper bags are still quite expensive, so we are currently subsidising the paper bags. It's costing us a little bit more, but it is something we are proud of."
The Democratic Alliance announced on Sunday that it would be instituting measures to mandate legislation that makes the use and sale of non-recyclable shopping bags illegal in the Western Cape.
Nude Foods, a grocery store opening in Cape Town in November, caused a stir lately when it announced that it would be the first plastic-free grocery store in South Africa.