Plastic produce bags given the flick

Supplied image.

Some countdown stores will further their efforts to reduce plastic usage as part of a ten-week trial.

Plastic produce bags and more than a tonne of other plastic will be removed from stores, as Countdown figure out what more they can to do cut down on plastic long-term.

Customers at Countdown Orewa, Ponsonby and Manukau will try out a new-look ‘Unwrapped’ fruit and veg section, with a lot less plastic and more loose produce from Feburary 10.

Paper bags will also replace plastic bags for bulk foods.

Countdown spokesperson Kiri Hannifin, says the company has invested more than $500,000 in shelving, packaging and production changes for the test.

“Like all Kiwis, we are incredibly passionate about the environment and reducing the amount of plastic and packaging in our produce section is something we, along with our customers, are keen to see.

“Unwrapped gives us a chance to give some new things a go with our growers and packhouses. We’re excited about how these stores will look and feel for our customers and team.”

She says as part of the trial they want to figure out whether the changes can be sustained over the long term.

“We’re mindful that packaging or process changes might cause bigger issues so we need to understand this a lot better before we roll something out nationwide.

“For example, without packaging some products might deteriorate far faster, causing food waste - that’s something we want to avoid because of the detrimental impact food waste can have on the environment.

“We don’t want to replace one issue with another and as such, we need to monitor food waste very closely,” says Kiri.

Throughout the 10 week test, Countdown will be talking to its customers and team to understand opinions on the changes, as well as measuring a range of factors.

Herb portions, bagged lettuce and other products will remain in plastic packaging. 

Countdown phased out single-use plastic shopping bags in October 2018, and over the last few years has focused on a programme to reduce unnecessary plastic and packaging, including removing 150 tonnes of plastic from produce and introducing BYO containers nationwide.

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