Unwrapped

Like all New Zealanders, we’re passionate about our environment here in Aotearoa and reducing the amount of plastic and packaging in our stores is a really important part of this.  We’ve already removed more than 150 tonnes of plastic,but there’s still a lot more to be done.

For ten weeks from 10 February, our Countdown Orewa, Ponsonby and Manukau stores are ‘unwrapping’ their fruit and veges to test some exciting ways to further reduce plastic in the produce section. 

Sixty-five products are being unwrapped from their usual plastic wrap or pack, and we’ve also temporarily taken away plastic produce bags.

If you’re shopping in these stores you’ll see a lot less plastic and a lot more loose fruit and veges, paper and specially-designed, more sustainable packaging where needed.  

Unwrapped gives us a chance to test whether these types of changes could work long-term, and deliver better outcomes for our precious environment. A big part of this is making sure that changes don’t cause bigger issues down the track and that’s why we’ll be closely monitoring things like food waste and how our customers feel about it.

We’re really excited about what the future could look like for our stores, customers and the environment.  If you’ve shopped Unwrapped, we encourage you to let us know what you like, what you don’t like and any suggestions on what we can improve by filling out our survey here when the test begins. 

 The survey will be added once the trial starts

Frequently asked questions

We’re passionate about protecting our precious environment here in Aotearoa, and reducing the amount of plastic and packaging in our stores is a key part of this.  We’ve already removed more than 150 tonnes of plastic in our stores, but there’s still a long way to go.  We’re unwrapping three stores for ten weeks in February to see what else could be done to further reduce plastic in the produce section.

Countdown Orewa, Countdown Ponsonby and Countdown Manukau.

The Unwrapped test will run for 10 weeks from 10 February.

We really want to hear from our customers throughout this test - it will help us tweak things as we go to make sure the changes we’ve made work for our customers, our team and the environment.  We’ll have a range of options for customers to provide feedback in-store including iPad surveys and a feedback board. Customers can also provide feedback through our online survey at: www.countdown.co.nz/unwrapped

We need to make sure that any changes we make are right for all our customers. The stores taking part in the test are a good representation of our customers and the communities our stores operate in.

We want to make sure that any changes we make are right for the future, and that we don’t cause bigger issues down the track, like more food waste for example.  We’ve invested more than $500,000 in shelving, packaging and production changes for the test, but it’s investment that has to be made if we’re serious about reducing the use of plastic in the long term. Testing Unwrapped in three stores to start with means we can get some good feedback before we roll out anything further.

There’s more plastic than we’d like on some products in our Unwrapped stores, but unfortunately we just haven’t been able to find a good alternative at the moment. We know plastic isn’t perfect, but we need to make sure we’re not creating more food waste, keeping food safe to eat, and making sure it’s still in great condition when you take it home. Wherever possible, plastic in our Unwrapped stores is PET or rPET which can be recycled and used over and over again. Soft plastics can also be recycled at each of the Unwrapped stores.

As part of the Unwrapped test, we’ve been able to find paper and cardboard packaging alternatives to plastic. While we know these aren’t perfect, we’re committed to giving these options a go as part of the test.  We’ll be gathering feedback from customers over the next ten weeks and will consider whether this type of packaging is right for us moving forward.

We know that a lot of our customers have already stopped using plastic produce bags and we regularly hear from customers who’d like us to phase them out altogether.  As part of Unwrapped, we want to understand how customers feel about using reusable produce bags or simply not using a bag at all.

Many of our customers already put loose produce in their trolleys and baskets or use their own reusable produce bags and just unpack and weigh their items at the checkout. In our Unwrapped stores we also have new, ultralight reusable produce bags that can be purchased in store at 3 for $3.

It’s good practice to wash your fruit and veges before eating them, however if you have any concerns about a trolley or basket, please let a member of our team know.

Many of our customers are already putting loose produce in their trolleys and baskets or using their own reusable bags and just unpacking and weighing their items at the checkout.

Absolutely. Anything we can do to help reduce the amount of plastic in our stores and in our waste stream is a good thing. From this three store test alone, we will be removing just over a tonne of plastic during the test. We’re really hopeful that some of the initiatives we’re trying out will help us deliver even further plastic reductions in future.

Customer feedback is a really important part of the Unwrapped test. We want our customers to love shopping with us - the changes we’re making need to be easy, convenient and better for the environment at the same time. Unwrapped will change the way our customers shop for ten weeks, but their feedback could have a long-lasting impact on how all New Zealanders shop in the future and help guide our next steps.

We’re really mindful that removing plastic packaging from some fruit and veges can mean it deteriorates faster, causing food waste - that’s something we absolutely want to avoid because of the detrimental impact food waste can have on the environment. We’ll be monitoring food waste very closely throughout the Unwrapped test and working with our Food Rescue partners to donate anything we can to people in need.

Like us, our growers and suppliers are passionate about reducing the amount of plastic waste being generated in New Zealand. We’ve had great support to try out a few different things for the Unwrapped test.