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September 7, 2009 | by  | in News |
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Grocery bag charge lifted

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Foodstuffs’ decision to stop charges on plastic bags at Wellington city outlets New World and Four Square has been met with surprise by a number of pro-environment groups.

Since initiating the five cent charge on 3 August this year, plastic bag usage has dropped by twelve million bags, a reduction of over 60 percent from last year.

Foodstuffs Auckland Ltd. General Manager Retail Sales and Performance, Murray Jordan claimed that the achievement of the target results meant the charge strategy had no need to continue.

“Our intention for the introduction of the charge was to drastically reduce the number of plastic shopping bags which damage our environment, and we are very pleased to have achieved this result in such a short space of time,” he said.

Convenor of Kiwi Plastic Bag Concern, Angus Ho, expressed disappointment with Foodstuffs’ decision.

“Other countries’ business sectors already take a proactive role to plan and act in an environmentally friendly way which benefits society and ensures long term profit,” Ho said.

Ho encouraged New Zealanders to fight back against Foodstuffs’ decision by boycotting all supermarkets

“We will spread the word to all our supporters in New Zealand, and encourage them to boycott all the supermarkets including all Progressive and Foodstuffs in Wellington,” he said.

Ho suggested people grocery shop at vegetable markets and local stores as an alternative.

“We suggest people buy their food from vegetable markets and local stores rather than non-responsible giant enterprise,” Ho said.

Sue Cotts from GetReal also said that when comparing the results of Foodstuffs’ strategy to those of the GetReal campaign, it was clear that the strategy should continue.

“It has taken five years to get to 22% using a voluntary approach. We heard this morning that Foodstuffs have achieved 50% in 3 weeks with their 5c charge. It is easy to see which approach has been the most effective,” she said.

Sophie Ward from Sustainable Wanaka said that Foodstuffs’ choice to stop charges was impractical.

“The Foodstuffs figures show that we can ‘make a difference’ overnight. We have the tools. We could solve the plastic bag issue and move onto much more interesting and complex issues. Instead we keep coming back to bags over and over again. How much time do we want to waste on this?”

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