Countdown has removed 1899 tonnes of plastic bags from circulation - data shows customers have embraced reusable bags

Countdown has removed 1889 tonnes of plastic bags from circulation in New Zealand since May 2018 - equivalent to eight fully loaded jumbo jets.

To mark the start of this year’s Plastic Free July and new plastic bag legislation coming into effect, Countdown has released data which shows Kiwi shoppers have continued to embrace the move away from plastic bags.

Almost 90 per cent of Countdown customers are now bringing their own bags or don’t use a bag at all when they shop and this number has increased month-on-month since Countdown began phasing out single-use plastic carrier bags in May 2018.  

Kiri Hannifin, Countdown’s General Manager Corporate Affairs, Safety and Sustainability says the company’s plastic reduction strategy has diverted 278 million single-use plastic shopping bags from landfill so far.

“Our customers are proof that Kiwis are ready to make positive changes when it comes to plastic bags. Almost 90 per cent of our customers are bringing their own bags every time they shop with us and we’re delighted that more and more of them getting behind initiatives like our BYO container trial to help reduce single-use plastic in other areas as well.

“The start of Plastic Free July is a great time for all of us to stop and think about the amount of plastic we’re using.  At Countdown, we’re taking the chance to highlight some reusable products in our stores and the progress we’ve made around reducing plastic to date, as well as answering some of the tough questions about what there is still to be done,” says Kiri Hannifin.

Countdown receives hundreds of emails, Facebook messages and letters from children and families all over the country interested in reducing plastic across the supermarket aisles.

“We aren’t shying away from this issue and throughout July, we’ll try and answer all of your difficult or common concerns about plastic on our Facebook page.  We’ll cover the good bits, the challenging bits and some of the other things we’re doing to tackle an issue we all care deeply about,” says Kiri Hannifin.

In line with the new plastic bag law, Countdown has today introduced a new, 100 per cent recyclable, Forest Stewardship Council certified paper bag for customers who forget to bring their reusable bags. The new paper bags are available to buy for 20 cents each.

In the last couple of years, Countdown has:

  • Removed 278 million single-use plastic carrier bags from Aotearoa’s waste stream.

  • Stopped selling packs single-use plastic straws, removing an estimated 11 million from circulation 

  • Started using New Zealand sourced recycled plastic instead of 177 tonnes of imported virgin plastic for a range of bakery products.

  • Removed 117 tonnes of plastic from our produce sections. 

  • Rolled out a trial of BYO containers in a number of our Canterbury and Auckland stores, with the intention of introducing this nationwide shortly. 

  • Supported the re-start of the Soft Plastics Scheme in 24 of our Auckland stores. 

To send Countdown a question about plastic, visit their Facebook page and send a comment.

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