Metro Herne Bey opened without single-use plastic produce bags in June.

Customers in 19 Countdown stores across Aotearoa will be adjusting to a life with less plastic this week, as a pilot to remove single-use plastic produce bags begins. The 19 stores join the Metro Herne Bay store, which opened without the bags in late June.

Since the pilot was announced on 1 July, teams at each of the 19 stores have been working with their customers to ensure they are well prepared for the change and Countdown’s Commercial Director of Fresh, Pieter De Wet, says it’s exciting to have the pilot now underway.

“Phasing out single-use plastic produce bags has been on our agenda for some time now, so to be kicking off this pilot in a further 19 of our stores is incredibly exciting. Our Metro Herne Bay customers have already adapted really well already and we’re looking forward to seeing how customers in the other pilot stores respond to this important change.

“Our pilot store customers will play an instrumental role in helping us understand how to make the shift to more reusable options as easy as possible for all Kiwis. We’re incredibly grateful to them for taking this leap with us, ahead of the expected government phase-out of these bags next year.

“We appreciate that we won’t get everything absolutely right from the start – but what we learn from our pilot store customers and team now will allow us to improve this as we go. Their feedback will be invaluable and help shape what a nationwide roll-out will look like in future,” Pieter says.

Pilot store customers will have a number of options available to them instead of the single-use plastic produce bags. These include bringing their own reusable produce bags or regular reusable shopping bags (or box, bucket or basket) and taking items out for weighing at the checkout, putting produce directly into their basket or trolley, or purchasing a two pack of reusable bags in store for $1.

“With our customers using around 50 million single-use plastic produce bags each year, this 20-store pilot alone will see around 5.4 million of these bags removed from the waste stream annually. We’re looking forward to adding more stores to this phase-out over the coming months,” Pieter says.

The 20 pilot stores are:

Countdown Browns Bay, AucklandCountdown Bethlehem, Tauranga
Countdown Takapuna, AucklandCountdown Napier, Napier
Countdown Greville, Auckland Countdown The Valley, New Plymouth
Countdown Grey Lynn, AucklandCountdown Rotorua, Rotorua
Metro Herne bay, Auckland*Countdown Awapuni, Palmerston North
Countdown Mangere East, Auckland Countdown Johnsonville, Wellington
Countdown Manukau, AucklandCountdown Cable Car, Wellington 
Countdown Waiata Shores, AucklandCountdown Blenheim, Blenheim 
Countdown Hamilton, Hamilton Countdown Ferrymead, Christchurch
Countdown Bridge St, HamiltonCountdown Eastgate, Christchurch

*Metro Herne Bay opened without single-use plastic produce bags in June.

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