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Countdown to offer paper bags at checkout

Countdown will begin selling recyclable paper bags at checkout, as the government ban on the sale and distribution of single-use plastic bags takes effect on July 1st.

The paper bags will cost 20 cents each, and be made of Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper.

“We’re really pleased to see single-use plastic carrier bags banned in New Zealand,” Countdown general manager of corporate affairs, safety and sustainability Kiri Hannifin said.

“Bringing your own bags is a behaviour change that New Zealanders are really getting behind, and it’s always our first preference.

“We’ve recently started accepting BYO containers in our deli, meat and seafood counters in selected stores and we’re hoping to roll this out nationwide shortly too.”

According to Countdown, the move away from single-use plastic bags at the supermarket has meant 350 million fewer plastic bags are entering the New Zealand waste stream each year.

The new legislation applies to all retailers in the country, and includes all single-use plastic bags under 70 microns thick.

Retail NZ interim chief executive Greg Harford welcomed the legislation, stating that it is good for the environment and for the country.

“Retailers large and small have been working hard over time to reduce or eliminate the number of plastic carrier bags being issued, and the formalisation of the phase out will ensure that there is a level playing field right across the retail sector,” Harford said.

Countdown confirmed it has started work on a programme to look at the ways the supermarket uses plastic, the types being used and why, as well as alternatives that could be adopted that would be suitable for New Zealand’s waste infrastructure.

“This includes reducing plastic where possible, trialling different bag options in bakery, installing produce misting systems to remove the need for packaging on fruit and veges, and supporting the return of the soft plastics recycling scheme in a number of Auckland stores,” Hannifin said.

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