Woolworths’ national rollout of paper shopping bags manufactured by Australian paper packaging converter Detpak is hitting its straps and has seen the creation of 25 new jobs and investment in new machinery at Detpak’s South Australia facility.
Following the announcement in December last year that Woolworths would be onshoring paper bag manufacturing in a multi-million dollar partnership with Detpak, the rollout has begun in earnest, with the locally made bags now available in the retailer’s Victoria, Tasmania, and Western Australia stores. Bags have been available in South Australia and Northern Territory since last year.
Tom Lunn, group general manager – Marketing & Innovation and head of Sustainability for the Detmold Group and Detpak, says it is expected that bags will be available in ACT and NSW by the end of the year, once two additional bag-making machines come onstream by October.
Lunn told PKN the investment in local manufacturing has been significant, with Detpak’s Adelaide facility seeing the installation of new bag forming and end-of-line equipment to build capacity. He said the new jobs created have largely been in operations, technicians, and logistics roles.
“An important part of the project, to create the full circular capability, was working in conjunction with a local paper mill to develop the material to the right strength and specifications,” Lunn said.
“The bag is made from 70 per cent recycled paper in conjunction with un-recycled paper to provide a structure strong enough to carry up to six kilograms of groceries,” Lunn explains.
To ensure the bag, with recycled content, matched customers’ expectations for use, Detpak conducted thorough testing to determine a suitable material which stood up to the test of a regular grocery shop.
Using sustainably sourced, PEFC certified, raw material to guarantee ethical inputs for the bag, Detpak’s innovation team conducted stringent testing, including loading the bag with ice to ensure functionality requirements of strength, and ability to handle chilled environments or condensation from products.
“Key in this product capability is the bag’s recyclability,” Lunn says, “ensuring consumers can dispose of their bag conveniently via kerbside bins at home, and enabling these bags to live again as part of a circular economy.”
Lunn tells PKN that Detpak is also working with other retailers as it grows capacity to supply products that will meet their requirements for waste buy-back models and a circular story.