Woolies plays down container plan

WOOLWORTHS has played down reports it is considering letting shoppers bring their own Tupperware containers for meat and fish but has not ruled out implementing the policy if there is customer demand and significant food safety issues can be addressed.

The potential move, which was first reported by The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, would form part of the supermarket's ongoing campaign to reduce plastic waste following the axing of single-use plastic bags, straws and excess fruit and vegetable packaging.

If introduced, it would mirror a similar policy introduced by the UK's fourth-largest supermarket Morrison's, which rewards customers who bring their own containers. But Woolworths has indicated it has no plans to do so at this stage.

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

The main problem would be the issue of food safety and potential contamination risks of bringing non-sterilised containers into meat, seafood and deli departments. Earlier this month, Adelaide petrol station chain On The Run cited similar concerns in its decision to ban reusable coffee cups.

There would also be the issue of accurate "taring", or the deduction from the gross weight to account for the weight of the container. It can be done consistently when containers are the same, but can be complicated to set up when working with different containers.

2GB radio host Ray Hadley slammed the proposal. "Some bloke with a ponytail, a Porsche and a piercing has come up with this idea because they're under a lot of pressure over this plastic bag issue," he told Nine's Today show.

"So they've thrown out the furphy. You can imagine people going to get their meat, their fish, their prawns and whatever else they buy at Woolies with Tupperware containers. It simply won't happen.

"They're just trying to divert attention away from the more important issue, and that's about home deliveries which will hurt them, because they're charging people $3.50 to bring the same groceries to the same house.

"Woolies are in a bit of strife over all of this and the Tupperware container is a thought bubble from a marketing guru out there at Bella Vista that doesn't deserve any attention."

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