Plastic bags

Countdown was the first supermarket in NZ to announce a move away from single-use plastic carrier bags by the end of 2018.  This will remove around 350 million plastic bags from circulation each year!

Ten of our stores move to reusable bags on 21 May and these stores will lead the change for the remaining 172 Countdown stores nationwide as they roll out over the year.

Moving away from 350 million plastic bags takes a fair bit of work behind the scenes and by our team in our stores - these first ten stores will test our thinking, our training and our processes to ultimately help ensure a smooth transition for all of our customers and team when we make the change across the country.

Countdown customers have already reduced their use of plastic bags by just over 16% since we announced our commitment last year. Our popular Countdown reusable bags are just $1 each and we’ll continue to introduce a range of options to help customers move towards reusable bags.

Removing single-use plastic bags is a big step, but it’s just one part of our overall aim to reduce plastic in our business.  In November we announced 20 corporate responsibility and sustainability commitments out to 2020. We’re also looking at ways to reduce plastic right across our business, including in produce and delis.

Bag for Good™ - Good for you. Good for the environment.

Imagine a world where you paid $1 for a reusable bag and you didn’t have to pay a cent for a bag again… well that’s where Countdown’s Bag for Good™ is here to help!

Our popular black reusable bag is now a Bag for Good™. It costs only $1, and when it wears out, bring it back in and we’ll replace it for free, no matter when you bought it from us. We want to make it as easy and affordable as possible for our customers to make the move away from single-use plastic carrier bags.

Under the programme, simply bring in your worn out Bag for Good™ when you shop with us, and we’ll swap it at the checkout for a new one. Once we receive a worn out Bag for Good™, we’ll recycle it in the designated Soft Plastic Recycling bins in our stores. For more information, check out the frequently asked questions here.

Our focus is firmly set on encouraging customers away from single-use plastic where something is used once and then discarded. The much better outcome is to use something over and over again, then recycle it to be used again.

Supporting Sea Life Kelly Tarlton's Turtle Rehabilitation Programme

In March 2018 we partnered with Kelly Tarlton’s Turtle Rehabilitation Programme, which helps nurse sick turtle’s back to health with the aim of releasing them into the wild. Turtles can often mistake plastic pollution for food, which if ingested, can have disastrous effects.

Online Shopping Trial

The number of plastic bags our online shoppers receive with their groceries is a hot topic, and that’s why we’ve been trialling different ways to reduce plastic bags in this part of our business.

We’re currently trialling a Swap-A-Bag in select stores, however in the meantime our online customers are welcome to request a box for their groceries if they wish to.

Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme

Countdown is a founding member of the Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme which recycles plastic bags and other soft plastics through our in-store collection points. This scheme repurposes the plastic bags into products such as benches, bollards and speed bumps. Countdown customers alone have recycled more than 60 tonnes of plastic!

FAQs

  • Our first preference is for you to bring your own from home - bring a bag, a bucket, box or wheelbarrow, we’re not fussy! We think this is the best option for our customers and for our planet.
  • If you get caught out, Countdown’s $1 black Bag for GoodTM is your best option - when it wears out, we’ll replace it for free.
  • We also have an emergency reusable bag option for 15c as well as a range of other jute bags. All of our options are reusable and designed to be used again and again.
  • Countdown’s popular reusable black bag is now a Bag for Good™. For $1, when it wears out, we’ll replace it for free, no matter when you bought it from us.
  • Under the programme, simply bring in your worn out black reusable bag when you shop with us, and we’ll swap it at the checkout for a new one.
  • Our Bag for Good™ is tested up to 150 uses. Once we receive a worn out bag back, we’ll recycle them in the designated Soft Plastic Recycling bins in Countdown stores.
  • We want to make the move to reusable bags as easy and affordable for customers as possible. That’s why bringing your own bags is our first preference. If you get caught out, then Countdown’s $1 black Bag for Good™ is your next best option - when it wears out, we’ll replace it for free. The new 15c bag is priced as affordably as we can, and any profit will be donated to charity.
  • This is a time of change for us too and there are some genuine costs we need to cover, including changing our bag carousel design, training our team, additional resource at peak times, exchange rate factors on the bags etc. We’ve priced our bags as affordably as we can while still covering our costs, and we’ll review whether those prices are right later down the track.
  • Fundamentally whether it’s compostable, biodegradable or corn starch bags, they are all still disposable. At Countdown we are trying to move away from the model where something is used once - or twice at best - and then it’s thrown away. The much better outcome is to use something over and over again, then recycle it to be used again.
  • We’ve investigated a vast range of alternative bag options and have engaged with industry experts along the way. The advice we’ve received is that New Zealand’s waste infrastructure just isn’t prepared for compostables on mass just yet, and given this we don’t think we’d achieve a better environmental outcome using them.
  • While home composting is gaining popularity, it’s not a mainstream solution for most New Zealanders. Few bag options available on the market right now can successfully be composted in home compost, and there are only a few areas in New Zealand that have the facilities for commercial composting. Compostable bags also can’t be recycled through the Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme because they contaminate the mix.
  • ‘Biodegradable plastics’ (eg starch-based shopping bags, drink cup coatings and lids, PLA clear plastic containers) will not degrade easily in the home compost bin or the environment, and are contaminants in regular plastic recycling systems.
  • ‘Degradable’ and ‘oxy-degradable’ plastics break down into tiny pieces of plastic which are not compostable in the natural environment.
  • Given all of this, whether we can sustainably use biodegradable bags isn’t clear enough yet and we don’t want to promote the use of bags that just break down in landfills and/or into micro-plastics. We may look at these types of bags (or compostables) in the future as this area evolves; one of the exciting things is how fast things are changing and how many new alternatives are coming forward all the time.
  • We’ve trialled paper bags at various times and we don’t think it’s the right solution for our checkouts. Reusable bags like the Bag for Good™ are designed to get your groceries home on foot or otherwise, and are more capable and robust than paper to be used again and again. We’re really clear that at our scale, focusing on reusable alternatives has got to be a priority. Where there may be an opportunity for paper bags however is in other areas of the supermarket where the weight of goods is lower than general groceries.
  • Countdown was the first NZ supermarket to announce it will phase out single use plastic carrier bags from our checkouts and online shopping by the end of 2018.
  • We use 350 million of these bags for customers every year and we think it’s the right thing to do for the environment. We’ve all seen the pictures of marine life suffering thanks to plastic pollution and the impact on our ecosystems is unacceptable.
  • This is just one of the actions we are taking to reduce plastic in New Zealand. We’re also looking at other plastic right across our business including in produce and our delis.
  • We’ve committed to phasing out single-use plastic carrier bags at the check-out and in online shopping by the end of 2018. We know there are lots of other plastic bags in our stores, including in produce and in the deli, and we’re working on alternatives there too.
  • In May 2018, 10 Countdown stores are phasing out single-use plastic carrier bags at checkouts. All our stores will be on board by the end of this year.
  • It sounds simple but we need to make sure we have our processes right for customers, test our checkout design, introduce and stock more sustainable alternatives, and talk to our customers to ensure we’re making it as easy as possible for them to make the switch. If we could do it any faster, we would.
  • The first of Countdown’s stores are moving to reusable bags at checkouts from 21 May. Countdown will pilot, trial and revise our approach in these stores to make sure it works well for our customers and our own team before rolling out to more stores over the coming months.
  • These ten stores are moving to reusable bags for good - you won’t see us revert to plastic bags, however it’s likely customers will see tweaks and changes over the coming months as Countdown helps ensure a smooth path for customers when phasing out single-use plastic bags across all of New Zealand by the end of this year.
  • The 10 initial pilot stores are:
    • Countdown Dargaville
    • Countdown Aviemore Drive, Highland Park, Auckland
    • Countdown Roselands, Papakura, Auckland
    • Countdown Northwest, Massey, Auckland
    • Countdown Johnsonville Mall, Wellington,
    • Countdown Victoria Ave, Wanganui
    • Countdown Redwoodtown, Blenheim
    • Countdown Ferrymead, Christchurch
    • Countdown Grey Lynn, Auckland
    • Countdown Gisborne
  • We've committed to phasing out single use plastic carrier bags from all Countdown checkouts and in online shopping by the end of the year. Over the past few months we've been trialling a range of different options for online shopping but we're still working on what the best option is for both our team and our customers.
  • We'll be ready to test some further alternatives in the first ten stores soon, which we’ll likely announce later in June. We really wanted to have online shopping included as well because we know our online shopping customers are as keen to get rid of plastic bags as we are. However it’s also important that we get it right.
  • Customers who live in areas where the Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme is in place can return their plastic bags to their online delivery drivers for recycling. The Soft Plastic Recycling programme is available in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, and all South Island Countdown stores.
  • Since launch, we’re proud that Countdown customers have recycled more than 60 tonnes of soft plastic through this scheme.
  • The Soft Plastics Recycling scheme is currently available in Countdown stores in Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington and all of the South Island. It collects a wider array of soft plastic than single use plastic carrier bags, and it’s an important part of the way this country can deal with soft plastics.
  • Countdown’s Bag for Good™ can also be recycled through the Soft Plastics Recycling bins in store.
  • Some customers do currently give some plastic bags a second life as bin liners, to wrap dirty nappies or to pick up their dog poo. However the biggest issue with plastic bags is when they escape from the waste-stream and make it into the wider environment, especially the ocean.
  • We know this will be a change for our customers however it’s the right thing to do for the NZ environment and many other countries around the world are making the change too. There are other more sustainable alternatives to plastic bags, or try newspaper or au naturel in your bin.
  • Countdown has committed to phasing out single use plastic carrier bags by the end of this year. We know this is a big change for customers and we’re keen to help make that change as easy as possible.
  • We’ll have reusable alternatives available for purchase at our checkouts if you get caught out.
  • We think it’s really important to help our customers move away from single-use plastic bags - bringing them from home, using them again and again and then recycling them when they’re worn out is a much better outcome for the environment.
  • Single-use plastic carrier bags are a hot topic but they’re just the start. We’re also looking at other ways to reduce plastic across our business. A recent example is a change to banana packaging which removed 158 tonnes of plastic as a result.
  • We have a wide range of reusable bags including our popular black reusable bag for just $1, which is now our Bag for Good™. That means when it wears out, we’ll replace it for free, no matter when you bought it from us. We’ll also have some other options in-store if you get caught out. Our preference is that people remember their bags - bring a bag, a bucket or a box, we’re not fussy.