Banana leaves replace plastic packaging in Asian markets

Plastic packaging alternative

A Thai supermarket in Chiangmai has devised a brilliant alternative to plastic produce packaging, turning to natural banana leaves and raffia to bundle vegetables. Shoppers  immediately responded, posting pictures of the aesthetically pleasing and sustainable wrappers on social media. The eco-friendly merchandising scheme was featured on the Rimping supermarket Facebook page last week, and  Vietnamese supermarkets quickly adopted the idea. Major market chains in Vietnam, such as Lotte Mart, Saigon Co.op, and Big C, have all begun to experiment with banana leaves as a packaging alternative in their stores as well.

In an interview with VnExpress, a representative from the Lotte Mart chain stated that they are still in the testing phase but plan to replace plastic with leaves nationwide very soon. Aside from wrapping vegetables and fruits, the grocery chain intends to also use the leaves for fresh meat products.

ban plastic bagsCustomers applaud the effort. “When I see vegetables wrapped in these beautiful banana leaves I’m more willing to buy in larger quantities,” said a local shopper. “I think this initiative will help locals be more aware of protecting the environment.”

According to VN Express, the use of the leaves as packaging is a welcome addition to the numerous other efforts establishments in Vietnam are experimenting with to reduce plastic waste. Big C already offers biodegradable bags made with corn powder in its stores.

Vietnam ranks fourth in the world for the most amount of plastic waste dumped into the ocean, with a reported 2,500 tons of plastic waste disposed in the sea daily. According to a Vice report, banning or reducing single-use plastic bags in supermarkets is a growing trend in Asia. South Korea recently banned use of disposable plastic bags, requiring supermarkets and other commercial establishments to provide recyclable containers to customers.

Singapore supermarkets have also been launching campaigns informing the public on the need to reduce plastic bag use, and Taiwanese shops have started charging for single-use plastic bags to discourage customers from using them. Meanwhile, China has seen a 66% drop in plastic bag use in over a decade since banning the use of ultra-thin plastic bags in 2008.

Images via Facebook/perfecthomes

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