The announcement follows hot on the heels of rival supermarket Countdown who said it will remove single-use plastic bags from its stores and e-commerce operations by the end of 2018.
“There’s increasing customer demand across the board for retailers to eliminate single-use plastic bags, and today’s announcement shows that New World is listening to that demand and acting on its customers’ views,” said Greg Harford, Retail NZ’s general manager for public affairs.
“The introduction of a voluntary donation from February, with the aim of phasing out plastic bags altogether by the end of next year is a positive move that will have positive environmental benefits for New Zealand.
“Across the sector, we’re seeing that customer views about plastic bags are changing. In many cases, customers are still needing bags to carry their shopping, but they are increasingly willing to take their own or buy reusable bags when they go shopping. Retailers are responding to that, and taking steps to reduce or eliminate the numbers of single use plastic bags in circulation.”
New World’s announcement means that the two biggest supermarket chains in New Zealand will now be eliminating single-use plastic bags from their supply chain over the next year.
Countdown says 350 million less plastic bags a year will be taken out of the system due to the policy.
“For more than a decade, many inspiring groups have worked tirelessly to combat plastic pollution in New Zealand. It’s thanks to their commitment that the issue of single-use plastic bags is now a mainstream concern,” said Elena Di Palma, who is a plastics campaigner with Greenpeace.
“Now it’s time for us to all get together and call on the new Government to issue a complete ban on single-use plastic bags in New Zealand.
“Regulatory action gives the best outcome for our oceans and sea life, and will mean a universal approach that is fair for all retailers.”
Associate Environment Minister Scott Simpson said he has met with representatives from local government, industry, business, and communities to identify options to reduce plastic bag consumption.
“The Government encourages voluntary approaches by businesses and communities that promote reducing, reusing, recycling and recovering resources. Both initiatives announced by Countdown and New World highlight that industry has the ability and determination to improve environmental outcomes in New Zealand,” Simpson said.
“I am pleased with the progress that has been made since I became Associate Environment Minister. Typically most cost effective and efficient solutions are industry lead. These announcements show the sector can move voluntarily without the need for heavy-handed regulation.
“By encouraging behaviour change and increasing infrastructure and services to support recycling, I believe we will continue to see plastic waste minimisation in New Zealand. I encourage all New Zealand businesses to follow the leadership of these supermarkets and take up the opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle and promote environmentally friendly behaviours.”