Upholding their commitment to having all single-use plastic carrier bags phased out of all stores by 2018, Countdown has announced that from October 8th all South Island stores will begin phasing out plastic bags. As of early next month, 85 percent of all Countdown stores in both the North and South Island will have fully phased out plastic bags with a further 67 stores being added to the roll out.

Stores located in Ashburton, Napier, Hastings, the Waikato region, Auckland’s North Shore and Timaru will all make the move on October 8 as will Christchurch’s 15 Countdown stores which will phase out single-use plastic all in the same week.

The phase-out across the South Island will be a massive milestone for the business. “We’re proud to be continuing to lead the way for supermarkets in New Zealand when it comes to phasing out single-use plastic carrier bags.

“With our stores using on average around 6000 bags every day, the faster we can make this change, the sooner we can make a difference for the environment.  Since we started phasing out single-use plastic carrier bags in May, we’ve already removed 22.5 million bags from circulation,” said Kiri Hannifin, Countdown’s General Manager of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability.

“Sixty-seven stores make the change on 8 October, which is our largest tranche joining the roll-out so far and will mean every one of our South Island Countdown stores is supporting customers to make the move to reusable bags. The end of single-use plastic bags at our checkouts and online is in sight.”

According to Kiri so far customers have been adapting well to the changes in store. “Already, we have seen a 17 percent decrease in the amount of plastic bags our customers are using when they shop with us. Making reusable bags, the norm will have long-lasting benefits for New Zealand’s environment. One of the reasons the phase-out is going so well is that our customers have really got behind this move and we hope this will continue when these further stores make the change.”

Countdown was the first New Zealand supermarket to announce that it would be phasing out single-use plastic bags. The move is part of the supermarket's effort to reduce the unnecessary use of plastic across the industry. Over the past year, Countdown has removed more the 70 tonnes of unnecessary plastic from their produce section, announced the removal of single-use plastic straws by 1 October, and has committed to transferring their in-store bakery products into New Zealand-made rPET sourced from onshore domestic plastic waste.