To celebrate Plastic Free July, Foodstuffs has announced it has begun the process of removing single use plastic produce bags from across its supermarkets.
This decision builds on other key sustainability initiatives such as Food in the Nude, the removal of plastic checkout bags and microbeads, and Foodstuffs’ BYO container programme. Sustainability leadership is one of the four key social promises Foodstuffs has made to New Zealand as part for their commitment to be #HereforNZ, and the removal of single-use plastic produce bags from all PAK’nSAVE, New World and Four Squares across the country is a big step towards meeting their 2025 Plastic Packaging commitments.
The announcement marks the beginning of the co-operatives’ move to phase out plastic produce bags, and customers can expect to start seeing changes in the produce department and trials of reusable bags or crates as sustainable alternatives to plastic produce bags appearing in-store.
“We were one of the first retailers in New Zealand to sign up to the New Zealand Plastic Packaging Declaration and, with the government proposing a ban on single use plastic produce bags by 2023, it makes sense to supercharge our journey towards removal now,” says Steve Anderson CEO of Foodstuffs South Island.
“This year’s Colmar Brunton Better Futures Report showed that the environment, plastic and packaging are among the top 10 concerns for New Zealanders. New World and PAK’nSAVE customer research showed that 30% of our customers are already reusing bags for produce and 66% are expecting to go reusable in produce soon. So, we feel shoppers are ready to embrace this change.”
The move follows New World, PAK’nSAVE and Four Square successfully phasing out single-use plastic checkout bags in January 2019, and customer behaviour in-store shows that it is now second nature for customers to shop with reusable bags. Anderson hopes customers will get behind the reusable alternatives the team will be trialling as they look to identify alternatives that will help customers transition from single use plastic.
“Our research shows that environmental and sustainability concerns are a big motivator when it comes to customers choosing to use reusable produce bags. Every customer has different motivators driving their shopping choices but there is a strong common desire to reduce waste and remove plastic across all aspects of our lives,” adds Anderson.
Customers can expect to see a range of trial products hitting the shop floor as part of this move including MUBs (multi-use bags), nylon mesh bags, polyester mesh bags, organic cotton reusable bags and collapsible crates.
“This change means our New World, PAK’nSAVE and Four Square stores will be offering customers solutions that are the most sustainable for the future and means we can avoid using paper or other solutions, which while better in the short-term than plastic, still have a significant impact on the environment and are not where we want to end up in the long-term,” says Anderson.
Reusable produce bags, such as MUBs, Rethink organic cotton bags and Fruity Sack nylon mesh bags, are already available to purchase in many stores across the country. These are great options for customers wanting to take more sustainable actions when it comes to their grocery shop.