Reducing Plastic Bag Usage

Reducing Plastic Bag Usage

Plastic Bags and what we are doing about them.

By the end of 2018 we will no longer offer single-use plastic bags at the checkout in New World, PAK'nSAVE or Four Square supermarkets. We are currently running a trial in selected stores of alternatives for customers who are caught short without their reusable bags.


Reducing Plastic Bag Usage

Our focus is on driving reusable bags. We do have a variety of bags available at different price points including $.99 for a reusable bag. We regularly run promotions giving away reusable bags as a gift with purchase. In total we’ve already given away more than 2 million bags throughout New Zealand. In New World North Island stores we do offer a 5 cent rebate for every bag a customer brings into the store up to a maximum of 10 bags.

New World is proud to be the principal supporter of – a nationwide campaign designed to help New Zealanders reduce, re-use and recycle – in a bid to do even more to address waste of all kinds. This campaign also helps those who are a little reluctant to give up their plastic bags.

New World and our sister stores PAK'nSAVE and Four Square, are the largest contributors to the Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme – currently collecting 8 tonnes per week.

We’re working in partnership with Sea Cleaners to help clean up waterways and oceans around NZ. Check them out here at

We’re doing a whole lot more to reduce our impact on the environment in partnership with our customers, our owner-operators and other key stakeholders like local Councils and central government.

We were the first supermarket (way ahead of anyone else) to move to 100% recyclable meat trays. We initiated this project with WasteMINZ and local councils to ensure that the product could be collected at the kerbside.

We were also the first supermarket business to go 100% microbead free – a full year ahead of the government mandate. We’re also banning plastic stemmed cotton buds from October 2018 with more announcements to come soon.

We are also reviewing product ranges to look at alternatives for plastic products.

And then there are all sorts of other things we do to look after our patch – New Zealand, such as: 

• Rolling out an electric fleet of delivery vans and by the end of this year will have more than 50 EV charging stations at stores throughout NZ 
• Signing up for waste minimisation programmes – where some of our stores have reached 90% diversion away from landfill 
• Donating food that’s fit to eat, but not to sell, to community foodbanks – to the tune of 4 million meals a year!

Other plastic news 

Some plastics are very useful for protecting food as it is shipped around the country, passing through multiple waypoints and handled in store. We work closely with suppliers to ensure that packaging is reusable and recyclable; either in store with soft plastics recycling or through kerbside recycling. We have recently committed to the Packaging Declaration along with a number of other major local and international companies, which will see us using 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable (where appropriate) packaging for our private label products by 2025. We’re actually quite well down the track on that journey already. 

We are absolutely committed to getting rid of unnecessary plastic packaging, so if you see something that looks like it’s slipped through the net in store – please call us out. 

Why don’t Foodstuffs stores all use ‘biodegradable’ bags or paper bags? 

There are many unsubstantiated claims from packaging suppliers around ‘degradability, biodegradability and compostability’. We regularly undertake research to help us decide on the best approach. As part of the last bag review, we evaluated the merits of paper, biodegradable and compostable bags through life cycle analysis and reviewed research on supermarket customer disposal habits. 

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that biodegradable or compostable bags disappear in a landfill environment, as it is very different to a composting environment. If they do break down without oxygen in a landfill, they release methane, which is a very damaging greenhouse gas, so the merits of switching to them are debatable. Customers are unlikely to home-compost a biodegradable plastic bag. The only benefit they do potentially offer is, if they end up in the marine environment, they may degrade quicker than a standard plastic bag. 

A further issue with degradable or biodegradable plastics is that they are deemed a contaminant in the plastics recycling stream. Recycled plastics are used in the manufacture of a range of new products including street furniture and underground pipes. Having a degradable element to the material used completely undermines the quality and value of the new product and thus threatens the market for the collection and recycling of plastics. 
Paper bags are made from a renewable resource which is good but they can be used less frequently and consume more energy and water in their manufacture and transportation than plastic bags. Some of our stores do offer them to customers as some customers prefer them. We are currently running a trial in selected stores, alongside heavy duty reusable plastic bags as an alternative for customers who forget to bring their reusable bags.

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