Foodstuffs supermarkets to accept BYO containers

Matamata New World, one of the stores that the scheme will be rolled out to.
Rexine Hawes/Matamata Chronicle
Matamata New World, one of the stores that the scheme will be rolled out to.

Eco-warriors turned away for bringing their own containers can celebrate with some stores giving in to demand. 

Supermarket giant Foodstuffs has announced that in the North Island it will now be allowing customers to bring re-useable containers for use in staffed areas like seafood, bakery, delicatessen, and butchery areas.

Previously, items have had to be collected in plastic. 

STUFF
Half the plastic bags we use come from supermarkets.

Foodstuff owns the Pak'nSave, New World, and Four Square brands.

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Chris Quin, CEO of Foodstuffs North Island spoke to TVNZ's Seven Sharp about the move, expressing the hope that this would help cut down on the use of plastics in the future.

A Pak'nSave supermarket in Papakura, Auckland.
SUPPLIED
A Pak'nSave supermarket in Papakura, Auckland.

He was unable to estimate how much plastic usage might be cut back by the scheme.

Tania, who writes a blog called The Zero Waste Way, said taking her own containers and bags with her had become a way of life. 

"I've been annoying my local stores and the head office team for a while now, and I am thrilled that the message has gotten through." 

Coffee beans can already be collected in jars from some alternative supermarkets.
MONIQUE FORD / STUFF
Coffee beans can already be collected in jars from some alternative supermarkets.

If everyone made small changes, it would reduce waste and make a huge difference, she said.  

Some alternative stores, like Commonsense and Binn Inn, have been allowed BYO containers for years. 

Foodstuffs North Island group manager for regulatory services Mark Casey said they ran a trial in some stores. 

The amount of plastic for bakery, meat and seafood at stores has long been the burden of the eco-conscious.
SUPPLIED
The amount of plastic for bakery, meat and seafood at stores has long been the burden of the eco-conscious.

"It's not as simple as it looks. We take our responsibilities as a retailer of food very seriously – food safety is a top priority, so making sure our customers' groceries aren't compromised through poor hygiene is very important."

Shoppers didn't realise the cost of containers would add to a product price, Casey said. 

"That's why we restrict BYO to counters where we can subtract the weight of the container." 

Many New Zealanders are already saying no to plastic entirely.
EVA BRADLEY/STUFF
Many New Zealanders are already saying no to plastic entirely.

It means products from bulk bins won't be included. 

It had been challenging for Foodstuffs to instigate the BYO scheme for bulk bins, primarily for legal reasons. 

By law, they are required to 'tare' off the weight of any container so that customers are paying only for the product they purchase.

Foodstuffs head of sustainability Mike Sammons said reusable containers, like reusable bags and boxes, were "totally where we should all be heading". 

They will test the BYO scheme in North Island stores before potentially taking it to the South Island too. 

Shoppers can use any containers but they must be cleaned thoroughly before being presented in store.

 

Pak'NSave provided this guide for when stores start accepting BYO containers in June:

1. Check your containers are leak-proof then clean and dry them.

2. Hand your containers to staff at the counter who will weigh the container before adding food.

3. They'll label and seal your containers with a barcode for scanning at the checkout.

Stuff