Shoppers support plastic-free move

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Better option . . . Pak'nSave checkout manager Alyse McDonald (left) and scan co-ordinator Tori Kater hold reusable bags, which customers can buy instead of plastic bags, outside the South Dunedin store on Tuesday. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

Dunedin supermarkets are pledging to be plastic bag-free by the end of the year – and their customers are already following suit.

New World, Pak’nSave and Four Square, all owned by Foodstuffs, and Countdown have announced they will ditch plastic bags in favour of reusable alternatives and have noted it has influenced their customers.

New World Gardens store manager Greg Roberts said he “definitely” noticed more people using their own shopping bags, rather than the store’s plastic ones.

Of those using their own bags, the “vast majority” use recyclable ones, he said.

Opting not to use plastics bags was “very topical and everybody’s talking about it”.

The store would be plastic bag-free by the end of the year so it encouraged shoppers to find an alternative to plastic, he said.

Foodlands Four Square owner Kevin Shen also noticed an increase in people using reusable bags and asked his staff to save the cardboard boxes so customers could use them instead of plastic bags.

While some people found plastic bags were more convenient, especially those who forgot their reusable ones, it was better for the environment to not use them, he said.

“I think it’s a good idea to save the planet, but it will take some time for people to get used to.”

The store planned to be plastic bag-free by the end of the year.

“I think people will understand but there’s always some people that won’t.”

Countdown corporate affairs general manager Kiri Hannifin said since the supermarket announced its plan to remove all single-use plastic bags, customers around the country reduced their plastic bag use by almost 17%.

“We think Kiwis are ready to go single-use plastic bag-free and we’ve had really positive feedback in the first 10 pilot stores, with more than 60% of our customers bringing their own bags.”

Ms Hannifin said the change would not be easy, so stores offered “in-store alternatives”.

“Kiwis are really proud and protective of our environment, and we are confident our customers will continue to respond positively as we add further stores to the roll-out.”

Foodstuffs New Zealand head of external relations Antoinette Laird said Pak’nSave Dunedin had charged shoppers 5c for plastic bags since 2009, which had “drastically” reduced plastic bag usage by 70%.

Sales of long-life reusable bags were increasing, she said.

“Our reusable bags can be seen absolutely everywhere, which is very, very encouraging, and people are changing their behaviour to get ready for the single-use plastic bag exit.

“We’re all in this together, and single-use plastic bags are definitely on the way out.”