Ainslie IGA is fighting a personal war on plastic waste by encouraging their customers to bring their own containers when buying products from the deli section.
Ainslie IGA’s store manager Dimitri Mihailakis said the store thought it would be a good idea a while ago but were concerned that some customers might bring in dirty containers and an issue for contamination might arise.
But with “rock solid” policies, food storage, and temperature checks in place, the store is now encouraging their loyal customers to bring their own containers.
“We have become very aware of our wastage, especially our plastic wastage, and doing what we can to fix that,” Mr Mihailakis shared. “We saw how much plastic was going out every day and thought about how we could cut back on it.
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“The support has been just great. We pushed it on social media and people started tagging us and taking photos of their container. Other environmental pages in other states were sharing it saying ‘why can’t our supermarkets do this?’.
“Looking back on it, it was a no brainer and to be honest, we are a bit annoyed we didn’t do it earlier.”
This is just another frontier in the iconic IGA’s crusade against plastic waste after they introduced biodegradable trays in the fruit and vegetable section and recyclable trays for their meat.
“A couple of years ago we introduced soft plastic wastage and recycling outside the store, we have cut our waste in half and we have got organic recycling,” he said.
“We have taken away all the plastic cutlery from the deli, our trays that the meat is in the butcher are fully recyclable. Some of our fruit and vegetable trays are made from cornstarch, so they are compostable as well.
“We are also looking at a returnable container scheme for the deli as well but that is in its infancy.”
The store has even knocked the prices down on paper bags to the same price as the plastic bags at the checkout. Even though they are currently running at a loss, Mr Mihailakis said it was all worth it in an attempt to encourage more Canberrans to be environmentally-conscious.
“We are planning on running a No Plastic July so we will remove the plastic bags from the checkouts for the month,” he said. “This is something that I have wanted to do for a while so I think we can use this month almost like a trial run to see how our customers respond. I can see that as something we do permanently.
“If we can cut out 2,000 plastic bags a week from going out and ending up in the bin, that is massive.
“We are always looking for something new in the store and we are all putting our heads together to tackle plastic. It is all the little things in the store, and though plastic is the cheaper option, we have a responsibility to do the right thing.”