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October 16, 2017 | by  | in News |
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Do You Ever Feel Like a Plastic Bag?

Both New World and Countdown, two of New Zealand’s “big three” supermarket chains, have announced that they will phase out single-use plastic bags by the end of 2018.

Countdown announced its policy on October 4, with New World following suit six days later.

The managing director of Countdown said that customer surveys showed 83 per cent support for the policy.

Chris Quinn, the Chief Executive of Foodstuffs, parent company of New World and Pak’nSave, claims they did not follow Countdown’s lead, but instead responded to the results of their own “BagVote” campaign.

This campaign asked customers whether they would support a $0.05 or $0.10 levy on plastic bags, or prefer that they remain free.

75 per cent of voters chose a $0.10 levy, with numerous customers contacting New World saying they would prefer to not use plastic bags.

Since its launch in July this year, 50,000 people have signed a Greenpeace petition to ban plastic bags in New Zealand.

Elena Di Palmer, Greenpeace’s plastics campaigner, has praised the supermarket companies for their bold move. However, she believes that solving the problem of plastic pollution will require a lot more work.

An estimated 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean every year. This causes significant disruption to marine life, seabirds, and marine flora.

In January 2016, the Ellen Macarthur Foundation announced at the World Economic Forum that if current waste levels continue, the plastic in the ocean will outweigh fish life by 2050.

Ellie Hooper, a representative from Greenpeace, told Salient that what is now needed is a legislative ban on single-use plastic, as this would be universal and fair for all retailers.

A representative from Foodstuffs told Salient that there were no immediate plans to phase out plastic bags in the Pak’nSave chain, but that they are “committed” to encouraging the use of reusable bags.

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