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Hanoi businesses put goods in sedge bags to reduce plastic waste

Saturday, May 11, 2019, 15:50 GMT+7
Hanoi businesses put goods in sedge bags to reduce plastic waste
Tran Van Van (right) puts the goods at his fish supermarket into a sedge bag. Photo: Hoai Pham / Tuoi Tre

Businesses in Vietnam continue to respond to environment-friendly trends when it comes to wrapping and packaging, as they turn from plastic and non-reusable bags to banana leaves and sedge bags.

A fish supermarket in Tay Ho District in Hanoi started to put its products in sedge bags in February.

In addition to being environmentally friendly, this wrapping makes the goods more appealing to the customers.

“Sedge bags make good wrapping and we can reuse them for other purposes,” Pham Dinh Tho, 32, a customer of the supermarket said cheerily.

As most Vietnamese grow up with products made from sedge, using the material as supermarket bags also brings back childhood memories for the customer, said the facility owner, Tran Van Van.

Van added that the sedge bags are very durable so they can be reused several times, minimizing the amount of plastic bags disposed of in the environment.

The supermarket sources the eco-friendly bags at a whole sale price of VND6,500 (US$0.28) apiece and only adds a little of this expense to the retail prices of products at their place.

Up until now, the business has used over 3,000 sedge bags, with around 50 percent currently being brought back by the customers when they return for shopping.

Another Hanoi-based business that is making its effort to replace single-use plastic is an online food store in Bac Tu Liem District.

Store owner Le Hoai Nam said she only started replacing plastic bags with the sedge alternatives in April when this trend was brought to her attention.

Echoing Tran Van Van’s point of view, Nam believes the packaging improves the products’ appearance so it appeals more to the customers.

“Sedge bags are best for fruits with hard and pointy outer layers like durians,” the female shop owner asserted.

“Most of my customers work in the offices and spend a lot of time on social media so they understand the message of us using this packaging, which is to reduce plastic bags and protect the environment,” Nam said, adding that she has received a positive response from her customers, most of whom have been enthusiastic about the change she made.

The price of the sedge bags is added in the product prices, but if the customers return the bags on the next delivery, they will be refunded for this cost.

Nam admitted that the eco-friendly packaging creates a financial burden for her customers, even when they return them.

 “In the future, I will have to find a better way for customers to return their bags, as well as a supplier with better prices,” she added.

Major retail chains such as South Korea’s Lotte Mart, Thai-owned Big C and Vietnamese leading retailer Saigon Co.op have also ditched plastic bags for more environmentally friendly materials such as banana leaves.

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