From today, Countdown will accept BYO containers for food sold over the counter in its Christchurch, Amberley, Kaiapoi, Rangiora and Rolleston stores, as well as Auckland’s Mt Eden and Mt Roskill Countdown supermarkets.

The initiative gives customers in these 18 stores the choice to re-use their own containers for deli, meat and seafood counters, and aims to help Countdown finalise its national processes to roll out BYO containers nationwide.

Kiri Hannifin, Countdown’s general manager corporate affairs, safety and sustainability said reducing the amount of plastic and packaging is a key priority for Countdown and they’ve been working on enabling BYO containers behind-the-scenes for several months to ensure food safety is maintained.

“We know that BYO containers are an option many of our customers are looking for in their drive to reduce single-use plastic. We’ve already received lots of requests from concerned Kiwis wanting us to give them this option.”

“The priority for us is to ensure that food safety is not compromised and that more waste isn’t created as a result. Part of our service will include training our team, making sure containers are clean and leak-proof, and ensuring that containers are weighed correctly to ensure customers are only paying for the weight of the product they’ve purchased.”

The feedback received from the trial will help Countdown tweak their systems before a nationwide rollout.

Customers being able to bring their own containers is just one of the many options Countdown is working on in its commitment to reduce plastic.

“We have a really wide-ranging programme looking at plastic use, the type of plastic being used and why, what alternatives there are, and when these will be available. This includes changes in the deli to reduce plastic, trialling different bag options in bakery, installing produce misting systems to remove the need for packaging on fruit and vegetables, and we’re very proud to once again be supporting the return of the soft plastics recycling programme in a number of our Auckland stores.”