Customers will soon be able to bring their own containers for use at all New World, PAK’nSAVE and Four-Square North Island stores. The policy will see customers able to use their own clean, leak-proof containers over the counter at their in-store butchery, seafood, delicatessen and bakery.

Mark Casey, group manager, Regulatory Services at Foodstuffs North Island said that the company had been running successful trials at several stores where they worked out what they had to do to give customers the choice if they wanted to bring their own containers. “It’s not as simple as it looks. We take our responsibilities as a retailer of food very seriously – food safety is a top priority, so making sure our customers’ groceries aren’t compromised through poor hygiene is very important.”

The service is so far only available at counter departments in store. This is for two key reasons; firstly, it means the store can give containers the once over and make sure they are fit for purpose and clean, and secondly, that the weight of the container is subtracted from the weight of the product being purchased.

“Many people don’t realise that products must be sold minus the cost packaging might add to a product. That’s why we restrict BYO to counters where we can subtract the weight of the container and produce a price label for the cost of the product only,” explained Casey. This is why Foodstuffs has not included products from bulk bins as part of the scheme.

“We have to make quite significant changes to the way we operate to take the BYO option storewide, but this new policy in our counter areas is a major step towards zero waste.”

Encouraging customers to reuse containers is just one of the many initiatives Foodstuffs has underway to help reduce New Zealanders’ environmental footprint. The company has previously given away millions of reusable shopping bags, encourages customers to bring reusable produce bags and is currently trialling home compostable produce bags.