IT is­sues mean plas­tic pro­duce bags to re­main for now

The New Zealand Herald - - Business - Aimee Shaw

Su­per­mar­kets ditched sin­gleuse plas­tic check­out bags from the first of the month but other plas­tic bags — the ones in fresh pro­duce aisles — are still read­ily avail­able.

Over the past few weeks the Her­ald has seen nu­mer­ous shop­pers tear­ing off ex­tra pro­duce bags and plac­ing them in their trol­leys, empty.

While bags are needed to group loose fruit and veg­eta­bles dur­ing the gro­cery run, it poses the ques­tion as to why paper or mesh al­ter­na­tives have not been rolled out.

A spokes­woman for Food­stuffs, which op­er­ates New World and Pak’nSave su­per­mar­kets, told the Her­ald both still of­fered plas­tic pro­duce bags as their IT sys­tems did not al­low for al­ter­na­tives when weigh­ing items upon check­out.

“Store scales are pro­grammed to take into ac­count the ex­ist­ing plas­tic bags en­sur­ing cus­tomers are charged the cor­rect amount, but can­not ac­cu­rately do this for the [range of al­ter­na­tive bags cus­tomers may put their] pro­duce in,” the spokes­woman said.

She said Food­stuffs’ IT team was work­ing on a so­lu­tion to al­low shop­pers to use other op­tions.

She could not con­firm whether or not Pak’nSave and New World stores were now go­ing through more plas­tic pro­duce bags.

The Her­ald has ap­proached Wool­worths NZ, owner of Count­down, for com­ment. Greg Har­ford, gen­eral man­ager of pub­lic af­fairs at Re­tail NZ, said he did not be­lieve shop­pers were now us­ing more plas­tic bags from pro­duce aisles.

Food­stuffs and Count­down, along with 15 large in­ter­na­tional brands have signed the New Zealand Plas­tic Pack­ag­ing Dec­la­ra­tion to com­mit to move to 100 per cent re­us­able, re­cy­clable or com­postable pack­ag­ing by 2025.

A spokesper­son for the Min­istry for the En­vi­ron­ment said plas­tic pro­duce bags were not in­cluded in the manda­tory phase out of sin­gle-use plas­tic bags which takes ef­fect from July 1 as they were im­por­tant for main­tain­ing food hy­giene and to en­able re­tail­ers to meet obli­ga­tions un­der the Weights and Mea­sures Act 1987.

A spokes­woman for Food­stuffs said the su­per­mar­ket did not of­fer paper pro­duce bags as there was a weight limit as­so­ci­ated with them.

“The fo­cus at the mo­ment is re­mov­ing ex­cess plas­tic from pro­duce and en­sur­ing in the long-term cus­tomers can bring re­us­able bags.”

Plas­tic pro­duce bags have a hy­giene func­tion.

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