Sustainability: Do You Understand its Importance to Supermarket Chains?

Sustainability in products and packaging is becoming a much bigger focus for consumers and also for supermarket chains. As a marketer, do you understand the stance and strategies Countdown and Foodstuffs have on sustainability and what this might mean for the products and packaging propositions you are working on? Are you ticking as many sustainability boxes as you can to help get ranging support? 

At Onfire Design, we have done our research. Here’s what we know, and use to develop effective and responsible packaging for our clients and their brands.


In 2017 Countdown launched their Environmental Sustainability commitment, known as Kia pai ake te apopo – A Better Tomorrow, which is aligned to the UN 2015 Sustainable Development Goals. Within this document there are 40 individual commitments falling into 3 key focus areas:  People, Planet and Product. Countdown’s stated aim is to achieve these commitments by 2025.

For a marketer developing or repackaging a range of products, the key questions to answer are:

  • Planet: does your product and its packaging have a positive impact on the planet, or at least limits any negative impacts?
  • Product: does your proposition help Countdown make it easy for their customers to choose products that are healthier, sustainably sourced, and responsibly packaged? 

As a packaging design agency, our major focus is on what that means for the selection of packaging materials. Countdown’s parent company Woolworths Australia have gone as far as publishing a list of preferred packaging materials (see below). This is a handy guide to get clarity on how the different packaging materials are seen, and in some cases how different colours or coatings on a base material can change their recyclability (and potentially their acceptability).


Foodstuffs have stated they are working hard at reducing the environmental impact of packaging used across their business. As part of this they have signed the NZ Plastic Packaging declaration and are working towards achieving 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable retail and Private Label packaging by 2025.

They have published 10 Sustainable Packaging Principles and actively encourage their suppliers to move in this direction. These are:

  1. Remove and reduce unnecessary packaging.
  2. Reduce the weight of packaging by changing the product and pack design where feasible.
  3. Where appropriate, design packaging so it can be reused.
  4. Where appropriate, transition to fibre based, renewable materials from sustainable sources that can be recycled or composted.
  5. Where plastic is necessary, prioritise clear plastics type 1 & 2, which are recyclable through all kerbside collections in NZ. By exception use #5, do not use #3 and #6.
  6. Specify the maximum amount of post-consumer recycled content feasible. 
  7. Avoid all oxo-degradable and rigid commercially compostable bio-plastics – use only certified home compostable bio-plastics.
  8. Avoid or minimise the use of materials that are potentially hazardous to the environment or human health.
  9. Include messaging in packaging design to let consumers know the best way to dispose of it after use.
  10. Communicate the desire that all suppliers adopt Foodstuffs 10 Packaging Principles.

How do your packaging materials stand up to an audit against these checklists? At Onfire Design, we understand that packaging is a major lever for the success of your product. And more and more, the wrong choice of packaging material could significantly impact your ranging and therefore your ability to get products in front of shoppers.  

We are clearly passionate about amazing pack design but are also keen to discuss and support you in developing packaging that is not just good to the eye but will also be kind to the environment, excite your key supermarket buyers and transform your sales.

Contact Sam at Onfire Design (+64 9 480 2036 or to discuss your next project and how we can partner with you.

Sustainability leadership | New World

Our Corporate Responsibility – Countdown