Supermarkets plan to ditch plastic bags
Countdown will phase out single use plastic bags from its stores and online shopping by the end of 2018.
The move would stop 350 million plastic bags from entering the environment, Countdown’s managing director Dave Chambers said.
The ban will apply to 184 Countdown stores around the country.
SuperValue and FreshChoice supermarkets will also phase out plastic bags, but a date has not been set.
From this week, the price of Countdown’s reusable bags will be reduced from $1.39 to $1.
Chambers said: ‘‘We have been tracking customer sentiment for two years and our most recent research, concluded in August, indicates that 83 per cent of our customers support phasing-out single-use plastic carrier bags.’’
In July, Countdown’s Australian owner, Woolworths, announced it would ban single use plastic bags, but from next year would charge shoppers 15 cents each for heavier, reusable plastic bags.
It is not yet known Countdown will do the same.
Compostable and paper bags are being trialled in SuperValue and Fresh Choice stores.
However, according to a report by the Scottish government, the process of making paper bags takes almost four times as much water, and releases more than three times as many greenhouse gas emissions, as making conventional plastic bags.
Wellington mayor Justin Lester welcomed the move by Countdown, but said he would still like to see Government impose a mandatory levy on plas- if tic bags for all businesses.
‘‘This is wonderful news. It is my strong personal belief that Government should legislate but this is a situation where the industry is taking care of itself,’’ he said.
A government levy was supported by more than 90 per cent of New Zealand’s mayors.
Last month, Foodstuffs launched an online campaign to find out what action customers wanted on plastic bags.
Customers could choose to pay five cents per bag, 10 cents per bag, or continue paying nothing.
Voting closed on October 8.