By Kelly McClean, Sustainable Packaging Project Manager, Foodstuffs NZ

"This month Canada announced they were heading toward a ban on single-use plastics by 2021. The list of plastic products mirrors that of proposed EU regulation, targeting single-use shopping bags, cotton buds, straws, stirrers, oxo-degradables, polystyrene, cutlery and plates. What’s next? And where?

Back here in New Zealand, the Ministry for the Environment has just kicked off their consumer-facing single-use plastic bag ban awareness campaign ahead of 1 July.

Kiwis are incredibly concerned about plastics entering the environment and want to know how they can make a difference.

Our team recently met with Auckland Mayor Phil Goff to discuss our direction on packaging, where we shared our 10 Packaging Principles that help guide transition activities towards 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable private label and instore packaging by 2025.

Here’s a quick snapshot:

• Removing and reducing unnecessary packaging – our Food in the Nude project is seeing a huge change in produce

• Specifying better choices and improved design – for example, using the design stage to reduce resource use and rationalise

• Designing for re-use – either at home or instore.  Our BYO Container launch has been well received by customers.

• Reducing plastics – by transitioning to renewable, natural fibre packaging where possible.

• Prioritising easily recyclable one and two plastics – move away from problematic plastic types

• Maximising recycled content – we were first to introduce 100 percent recyclable meat trays made from 50 percent RPET back in 2015

• For bioplastics, use only certified home compostable. Avoid oxo-degradables and commercially compostable options. We are currently trialling home compostable produce bags with great feedback.

• Avoiding hazardous materials, e.g. inks, Phthalates and Bisphenol A (BPA), elemental chlorine

• Educating consumers – Support for ‘Bags not’ behaviour change campaign

• Sustainable suppliers – transition to reusable, recyclable and compostable packaging

There’s no denying the conversation is moving quickly. It has to. Each store in the community has a role as kaitiaki, and we have the opportunity to help shape how our customer’s shop, carry, preserve and re-use.

Creating space for innovation to flourish across the team and supply chain is critical to the 100 percent New Zealand owned and operated supermarket business.

Foodstuffs is proud to have started the conversation with New Zealanders on single-use plastic bags through the bag vote and ‘Bags Not’ campaign and successfully phased out single-use plastic bags in 2018.

We have led the phase-out of microbead products, plastic applicator tampons, and plastic stemmed cotton buds. We’re working on the reformulation of picnic ware, straws, and we’ve rolled out refilleries with Ecostore in New World Durham Street and New World Long Bay.

The Foodies team is committed to leading in this field and will continue to trial new ideas and implement changes – even if that means changing our processes.

The fact I can now head into my local New World, PAK’nSAVE or Four Square with my own reusable container is a testament to that."