Paper bags will soon be available for customers to purchase at Countdown checkouts for 20 cents each, due to the government ban on single-use plastic shopping bags coming into effect on the first of July. The 100 percent recyclable paper bags are made from Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper.

“We’re really pleased to see single-use plastic carrier bags banned in New Zealand.  Our Countdown customers have led the way in their willingness to move to reusable bags and I hope this will help assure other retailers that it can be done easily,” said Kiri Hannifin, Countdown’s general manager corporate affairs, safety and sustainability.

“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.”

The paper bag will replace the previous multi-use plastic bag.

Countdown’s most popular reusable bag is its $1 Bag for Good, which Countdown replaces for free when it wears out.  “We know that customers are going to forget their bags sometimes, and we want to make sure we have sustainable and affordable choices in-store for when they do,” said Hannifin.

The move away from single-use plastic carrier bags at Countdown has meant that 350 million of these bags are no longer entering the New Zealand waste stream each year.

“At the moment, our priority is reducing and removing as much unnecessary single-use plastic and packaging as possible from across our business. At the same time, we have an extensive programme of work underway to look at our plastic use, the type being used and why what alternatives there may be and whether these will 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 vegetables, and supporting the return of the soft plastics recycling scheme in a number of its Auckland stores,” added Hannifin.