Choosing to reuse just got a little easier as Foodstuffs begins the process of removing single-use plastic produce bags from its 330 stores across the country in time for Plastic Free July.

This announcement comes after other key sustainability initiatives such as removing single-use checkout bags and microbeads as well as a BYO container programme.

“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 CEO of Foodstuffs South Island, Steve Anderson.

“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.”

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,” he says.

A range of trial products will be available in-store 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.”

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.