Foodstuffs has announced that from 1 January 2019, all retail* and wholesale brands in the 100% New Zealand owned and operated Co-operative will no longer offer plastic checkout bags.
Steve Anderson, MD Foodstuffs NZ, speaking on behalf of all the brands says, "We've been part of New Zealand's landscape for nearly 100 years, feeding and nurturing and employing millions of Kiwis. We also welcome millions of travellers to our stores as they journey through this amazing country. We consider it a huge privilege and responsibility to do our best to look after our patch for centuries to come.
"The change in plastic bags, our work to improve and remove plastic packaging where appropriate, our leadership in soft plastics recycling and the ban on microbeads and plastic cotton buds - all add up to major changes in the way we look after New Zealand.
Since we started this conversation we've seen between a 20 to 36% drop in plastic bag usage in our stores - but by the time January 1 rolls around this change will have removed more than 350 million plastic bags from circulation.
"From 1 October, all New World, PAK'nSAVE and Four Square customers can expect to see an increased focus on reusable bags with more options available.
Anderson says, "By the end of March next year we will have given away a reusable bag to pretty much every New Zealander. We see our beautiful bags everywhere; on the beach, in the park, at the gym, in our stores and they've even been spotted at our competitors' stores. That's perfectly Ok - the more we all change to reusables, the faster we stop plastic bags ending up in the environment."
In response to the fuss across the ditch about plastic bags and customer angst, Anderson says, "We don't anticipate the same reaction in New Zealand. Perhaps it's because Kiwis are keener to look after what we have. We're all neighbours, we're one big family - we look out for each other and our patch. New Zealand is ready to roll with no plastic bags at the checkout from 1 January, 2019. So are we."This change means millions of single-use-plastic bags will no longer be at risk of cluttering our waterways or harming sea life. The Government thinks it’s a good idea too and has banned single-use plastic shopping bags from 1 July 2019.
This might be a big change for some and not so big for others. A lot of you savey New Zealanders have been packing your shop into your own bags, boxes, and even straight into your boot for ages now.
If you’ve been buying single-use plastic bags, we encourage you to get into the reusable habit.
We’ll still have more environmentally friendly back-up options to buy, if you’re caught short. But we encourage you to keep on doing what you’re doing, pack your own reusable bags. It’s good for the planet and helps save you money – which sounds good to us.
Why are you removing single-use plastic bag as an option?We’re committed to doing our bit to reduce the amount of disposable single-use plastic polluting our environment. On top of that, we’ve received a lot of customer feedback that they simply don’t want them anymore.
What happens at the end of 2018?We love New Zealand, so we’re removing single-use-plastic bags from our checkouts by the end of the year. Don’t worry if you forget to bring your reusable bag we’ll offer alternatives that you can purchase.
You’re making me feel guilty for not remembering my reusable bags? That’s unfair!We are sorry you feel that way – that’s certainly not our intention! We’re all in this together and bags are definitely on their way out – so if you have any brilliant ideas for helping you remember to bring your reusable bags feel free to share them with us.
Paper bags aren’t good for the environment either! Why are you supporting deforestation?
We agree that paper bags are not the answer. We have chosen to go with Paper as a back-up alternative for shoppers if they forget their bags, because it is recyclable (in November, Sustainably Sourced). But anything that can’t be used long-term is not the best option. Which is why we’re encouraging customers to bring their own bags, and to reuse their paper bags a couple of times.
Why do you have a plastic alternative?
New habits take time. That’s why we’re offering our customers better alternatives, rather than offering them no alternative options. Our new reusable plastic bag (where available) can be reused more often than a single-use plastic bag and is stronger than a paper bag.
Our main goal is to help our customers use the best option available their own long-life reusable bags.
What are my bag options now? What should I use?
Single use plastic bags will only be available until the end of 2018.
We have better alternatives available for purchase: Paper bags cost 20 cents (and where available) Reusable plastic bags cost 25 cents. But we strongly encourage our customers to go for the BEST option – bring in your own long-life reusable bags, boxes – or take your shop straight to your boot.
Why are you waiting until the end of the year to remove single-use plastic bags?There are many customers who are not looking forward to a life without single-use-plastic bags and we need to help them adjust.
We have lots of initiatives in place to help them make a change with reusable bag giveaways, reminders to bring their own bags when they come shopping, and the Bags Not campaign which will encourage shoppers to say no to a single-use-plastic bag.
When is your store going single-use plastic bag free?We’ll be going single-use plastic bag free by the end of 2018. We’re celebrating the New Year by going reusable!
Aren’t you just replacing plastic with plastic?
Our new reusable plastic bag (where available) is thicker, stronger, lasts longer and is 100% recyclable. That means it can be reused more often than a Single-use plastic bag and stronger than a paper bag.
We’re banking on YOU choosing to reuse this reusable plastic bag over and over again.
Each time you do, you reduce the number of single-sse plastic bags entering our environment.
Will you still use a single-use plastic bag for raw chicken? Why will you still use barrier bags?
There are several items we recommend separating with a barrier bag from the rest of your groceries. For example, raw chicken has harmful bacteria that will be removed by cooking however if transferred to ready to eat product there will be no heating to remove the bacteria. Likewise, if the bacteria is transferred to a raw meat such as rump steak, the steak may not be heated to a temperature that will destroy the bacteria (i.e. some people prefer to eat rare steak while chicken must always be cooked to greater than 75°C).
We offer free single-use-plastic barrier bags at checkout for this reason. We are looking at alternatives which are not plastic.
What about all the other plastic in your store? What are you doing about that?Not all plastic is bad. In fact, plastic packaging is often the most environmentally friendly way to package, protect and ship products around the world and New Zealand. But, we do need to dispose of it in a considerate way – ideally reusing and recycling.
We are doing a lot however to reduce plastic waste:
- We’ve already removed micro-beads from our stores, replaced our meat trays made from 100% recycled plastic – which in turn are also recyclable, and now we’re on to cotton buds, straws and other products.
- And we’re also looking at alternative packaging for produce, deli, wine, and bakery goods. Every option needs to be evaluated for its sustainability and this is taking some time. We have thousands of products in store which require repackaging – it’s a massive exercise, but we are giving this serious attention.
- 100% of our retail and private label packaging will be either reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025. We will encourage other companies, including all suppliers, to do the same.
- Some of our stores are changing their produce departments, introducing new systems to keep fruit and veges fresh
- We’ve given away millions of reusable bags.
- We’ve made more reusable bags available for sale, and we’ve expanded our support for the Soft Plastics Recycling program.
What about the single-use plastic produce bags?
Many of our customers have told us single-use-plastic produce bags are on their environmental radar. We’d all like to have an alternative to plastic bags for our fresh produce. The existing plastic produce bags serve a couple of purposes – they protect fruit and soft veg from damage, keep things fresh and clean and allow our checkout operators to quickly identify the produce and weigh it.
But, we’re currently investigating alternatives to the free single-use-plastic produce bag. While it seems simple, it is a complicated challenge which requires in-depth investigation to ensure we get it right. Rest assured we are working on how we address this as - like you - we are very keen to reduce excess packaging and waste. We’ll provide an update as soon as we can.
In the meantime, you are more than welcome to use your own produce bags in store to pack your apples, spuds and fresh beetroot!
Why are you not offering a biodegradable bag? Or compostable bags?
Most so-called compostable or bio bags require proper composting environments to help them breakdown. Most Kiwi homes no longer have a compost heap or bin, especially in smaller homes or apartments. If these bags end up in landfill they can release harmful greenhouse gases. Worst still, if they end up in our Soft Plastics Recycling collection bins they can corrupt the entire batch.
We’ve done a lot of research on how we might cause the least harm – and heavy duty plastic bags that can be recycled and reused came up on top.
In limited situations, like bin-liners, home compostable plastic bags cause less harm. That’s because if they aren’t composted at home, they go to the landfill and will not end up corrupting soft plastic recycling bins.
Are you going to make customers pay for their bags like Countdown?
We will offer alternatives for purchase if shoppers are caught short when single-use plastic carrier bags are gone. But they are by no means a money-maker! These alternatives cost more to produce, transport and warehouse.
A charge also discourages people from using them. We’d rather you use a long-life reusable bag to pack your groceries.
Why are the alternatives bags more expensive? Aren’t you just trying to make more profit?
The new shopping bags we are offering cost significantly more than single-use-plastic bags. We need to charge for these bags to cover the costs of purchase, warehousing and transportation.
A charge also discourages people from using them. We’d rather you use a long-life reusable bag to pack your groceries.
What will I use to line my bin?We know that many of our customers have been using single-use plastic bags to line their bins.
Bin liners are available for purchase – and we’re exploring alternatives that will make the least environmental harm. But we encourage people to go plastic-bag free for their rubbish too! Our top tips:
- Line your bin with newspaper instead.
- Use newspaper to wrap up smelly wet rubbish.
- Give your bin a rinse.
- Reduce household waste as much as possible. Compost food waste (the main culprit of a smelly bin!) and recycle as much as possible.
Can I bring my own containers for meal and deli products?
We’d love to say yes, but this comes with its own set of problems, mainly around health and well-being. We are focusing on providing packaging that is recyclable or easily broken down. Increasingly our deli and salad containers are recyclable.
We are trialling a BYO container project at the moment and will keep you up to date with any developments.
When are you getting rid of plastic straws?We’re running down stocks of plastic straws with a view to moving entirely to alternatives later this year. We are very aware that some consumers, particularly those with disabilities, still need the option of a straw and we want to ensure this is available moving forward.
Can I recycle my polypropylene reusable bags – like the black ones from PAK’nSAVE?Unfortunately not. At the moment, there is no confirmed recycling solution for these bags. There may be one in the future, and when that time comes, we’ll let you know.
Where do the soft plastics go?They are collected and reprocessed both in Australia and in New Zealand. The clever people who process them make everything from park bench seats.
When can we get a soft plastics recycling bin in this store?
We’re working as fast as we can on this, but we will not be expanding further until we have an established processor for the volume of the material that we generate.
We will update when we can.
What about till receipts? When can I stop getting those?
All our staffed check outs now have the ability to not print a receipt if you don’t require one (under the value of $40), just tell the operator before the end of the transaction that you don’t want them to print the receipt.
We’re working on a solution for our self-checkout that will be available shortly.