New Zealand's grocery distributor Foodstuffs announced that it has eliminated the use of single use checkout plastic bags at its stores across the country, as part of its efforts to reduce plastic waste.
Foodstuffs is already supporting the Packaging Forum’s Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme, which was launched in November 2015.
The stores of Foodstuffs have collected fully two thirds of the total scheme volume to process around 400 tons of soft plastics into new long-life products such as benches, bollards, decking, plastic posts and ducting for electric cables.
Under the scheme, Foodstuffs is also focusing on the reduction of plastic packaging in its stores across private label products.
The grocery distributor is also exploring multiple ways to help reduce soft plastic waste among other products.
Foodstuffs also noted that currently only 20 tons out of the current 60 tons collected per month is reprocessed through two small re-processors and other 40 tons are either stockpiled or sent to landfill.
The grocery distributor is working with the forum to develop new re-processors to reduce plastic waste and find ways to properly re-use the waste capacity.
In addition, Foodstuffs noted that it supports government to work with industry to help build the required infrastructure for the future and encourages customers to select brands and products with less packaging or sustainable packaging options.
Last December, the New Zealand government unveiled plans to eliminate the use of single-use plastic shopping bags from 1 July 2019.
The cabinet has approved the proposed regulations for a mandatory nationwide phase out of single-use plastic shopping bags, said New Zealand environment minister Eugenie Sage.
As per the new regulations, the retailers must avoid the selling or offering single-use plastic shopping bags to the customers.
Light-weight supermarket bags, heavier boutique-style shopping bags and emergency bags currently provided by some supermarkets as an alternative to a free single-use bag will be banned under new regulations.
Bags made of degradable plastic, even they are sourced from fossil-fuel, synthetic compounds or biological sources such as plants, will also be banned.