New World supermarket asks for feedback on plastic bags
New World shoppers have a choice in front of them. To pay for plastic bags – or not.
The supermarket chain is launching a campaign find out what action customers want them to take on single-use plastic bags.
They'll have three options to choose from: To pay five cents per bag, 10 cents per bag – or continue paying nothing.
Proceeds from bag charges will go to environmental or community causes.
Voting on the options will be open until midnight on October 8 at www.bagvote.co.nz.
Results will be published on October 10 and Foodstuffs, which owns New World, hoped to implement any change by late January 2018.
When asked why New World wasn't offering an option to get rid of plastic bags altogether, Foodstuffs managing director Steve Anderson said: "I think we strongly want to reduce the amount of single use plastic bags and we have been doing a number of strategies over the years to do that.
"For instance, a rebates system in the North Island, we use soft plastic recycling and we also provide a lot of re-usable bags."
Even if shoppers chose the status quo, New World would still work towards a reduction of plastic bags and options like soft plastic recycling, he said.
"We want to reduce the number of single-use plastic bags into the environment as a result of our business."
Shoppers at New World St in Christchurch had mixed views on charging for plastic bags.
Cashmere woman Penny Coffey said she was not in favour of the idea, saying groceries were expensive already and that plastic bags alone were not the sole issue because lots of other items contained plastic.
"I would rather buy my own bags than pay for them.
"In England and Waitrose everybody takes their own bags because you have to pay and it's noticeable the difference," she said.
Allan, from Cashmere, said he would pay for plastic bags because he had seen on television documentaries the damage they could cause to wildlife and the environment.
"I think we should bloody well be paying."
The amount of plastic bags ending up in landfills was "crazy", he said.
New World had been working on the specific plan in the past month or two as a result of the increasing action about plastic bags, Anderson said.
Pak'nSave, which is also owned by Foodstuffs, already has plastic bag charges in place. That caused a significant reduction in the number of bags used, Anderson said.
A Foodstuffs spokeswoman said New World would also make more reusable bags available for shoppers.
New World would promote the campaign online, instore, via social media and on television.
It's been working with a non-profit organisation, Sea Cleaners, who have been providing advice for the project.
Anderson said his preference was for every shopper to have re-usable plastic bags.
"[Re-usable bags are] the best thing for everybody because we wouldn't have to charge anyone . . . and we are not putting up with the cost and effort of giving away free bags.
"Our motivation is because the fewer plastic bags that get into the environment the better. It also saves us costs and if there is a charge, I believe it will give some benefits to really worthy causes.
"The fact is, plastics are still needed by society . . . particularly around food safety. So I think a plastic-free society, while worthy, is not practical.
"To me, it's around re-use, reduction and recycling."
Anderson said he would be voting for a charge on bags.
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