Countdown welcomes Government plan to phase out single-use plastic bags

10 August 2018: Countdown has today welcomed the Government’s announcement that single-use plastic shopping bags will be phased out in New Zealand over the next year.

Countdown was the first supermarket in New Zealand to commit to phasing out single-use plastic bags by the end of 2018, and has previously made submissions supporting a nationwide phase out. From Monday, a third of all Countdown supermarkets will have already made the change to reusable bags.

Speaking at the Government’s announcement today, Countdown’s General Manager Corporate Affairs, Kiri Hannifin, says phasing out these bags will have considerable flow-on benefits for the environment and future generations of New Zealanders.

“We are absolutely thrilled the Government has begun consultation on a mandatory phase out on single-use plastic carrier bags in New Zealand. We’ll certainly be confirming our support for a phase out during this process.

“The devastating effect plastic pollution has on our marine wildlife and environment is widely understood, and there is a growing sense of urgency that more needs to be done to address it.  A nationwide phase out will go a long way towards stemming the flow of plastic ending up in our waterways, reduce pressure on recycling systems and provide a stronger basis for New Zealanders to change our attitudes and behaviours towards plastic use and plastic waste,” Kiri Hannifin says.

“When Countdown announced we’d be phasing out single-use plastic carrier bags, we did it without any Government intervention but in the knowledge we were doing the right thing for our customers who had been asking our business to make the move, and of course for our environment.

“A decision to phase out these bags can be a much harder call for smaller retailers who could be fearful about losing customers to their competitors. Today’s announcement from the Government will level the playing field for all retailers - both big and small - and best of all, make reusing bags the norm for customers throughout the country.

“As we phase out single-use carrier bags from our stores, we’ll continue to share what we learn about how to make the change easy for customers. This is an initiative we hope New Zealand will embrace and we’re keen to help make that happen.

“Phasing out single-use carrier bags is only the start of our journey to remove and reduce unnecessary plastic from across our business. We look forward to working with the Government as they firm up their plans,” Kiri Hannifin says.

Countdown will be phasing out single-use plastic carrier bags from 42 stores from Monday, 13 August; 10 stores made the change earlier in the year.  All Countdown stores will have phased out single-use plastic carrier bags from their checkouts and online shopping service by the end of 2018.

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