To celebrate its first ten stores phasing out single-use plastic carrier bags at checkouts tomorrow, Countdown has launched its Bag for Good programme, where for $1 customers may never need to buy another reusable bag.

Any Countdown-branded black reusable bag that has seen the end of its days can simply be exchanged for a new one at Countdown supermarkets nationwide.  Kiri Hannifin, Countdown’s general manager corporate affairs, said the business wants to make it as easy and affordable as possible for customers to become single-use plastic bag free.

“Our first preference is that customers bring their own bag, box, bucket, wheelbarrow - we don’t mind.  If you get caught out, then know that for $1 you’re buying a reusable bag that you’ll never have to pay a cent for again,” said Kiri Hannifin.

“The New Zealand environment is precious and we’re keen to support our customers to make a change in an easy and affordable way.  Our focus is firmly set on encouraging customers away from single-use plastic where something is used once and then discarded.  The much better outcome is to use something over and over again, then recycle it to be used again."

The first ten stores are leading the charge for the nationwide rollout that will see single-use plastic bags removed from all 182 Countdown stores by the end of 2018.  Once complete, 350 million plastic bags will be removed from circulation and the waste stream.

The ten stores have a range of reusable bags for customers to choose from if they forget their own bags:

  • Bag for Good: $1
    • Countdown-branded black reusable bag
    • Once it wears out, bring it back and Countdown will replace it for free
    • Tested up to 150 uses
  • Emergency reusable bag: 15c
    • Plastic, 55 micron
    • Any profit will be donated to charity
    • Tested up to 20 uses
    • Will be reviewed by mid-2019 to see whether it’s still needed once customers have had time to adapt to the change
  • Reusable chiller bag: $4
  • A range of reusable jute bags: Prices vary

Kiri Hannifin said the company expects that bag options will change and evolve over time as customers adapt to the new way of shopping.

“We know from our research that more than 80 percent of New Zealanders think it’s time to make the move away from plastic bags.  As habits change, and as more and more retailers also make the change, we’d hope there’d be less need for emergency back-ups like the 15c bag."

Both Countdown’s Bag for Good and emergency bag can be recycled in the designated Soft Plastics Recycling bins in Countdown supermarkets.