Foodstuffs initially saw a positive response to its online BagVote campaign, which asked consumers whether its New World supermarkets should introduce a charge on single-use plastic bags. However, things quickly went sour when Progressive one-upped it by announcing it will phase these out from its Countdown stores and online shopping by the end of 2018. Now, New World has fired back with a commitment to do the same.
New World’s BagVote campaign gave consumers three options to vote on: introduce a 5 cent charge for bags; a 10 cent charge; or no charge at all. It did not include an option for phasing out bags.
In a press release sent today, Steve Anderson, managing director, Foodstuffs NZ Ltd, admitted that the omitted phase-out option was “important”.
“Many of our customers told us via email, Facebook, phone and in-store that they wanted this option.”
Anderson says New World is now aiming to phase out single-use plastic bags by the end of 2018, with a caveat: “This move depends on being able to find the right bag solution to meet our customers’ needs and those of the environment.”
Its next moves will be:
- New World will give away 2 million long-life reusable bags over the summer.
- On 1 February 2018, New World will introduce a 10c voluntary donation per plastic bag, which will go to environmental causes.
- It will be continuing the 5c rebate for each reusable bag in our North Island New World stores.
- New World will promote and expand the existing Soft Plastics Recycling programme.
In the BagVote campaign, 171,240 people voted, 76.5 percent of which voted to introduce a charge for bags. More than 75 percent of those who favoured a charge voted for the top bracket, 10 cents per bag.
Anderson says the fact that 23.5 percent chose to vote for no introduction of charges on bags goes to show “how challenging this issue is.”
He acknowledged the fierce competition on the issue with a parting shot: “The fact that other retailers are now engaged on the plastic bag issue is a win for the environment and we are so pleased this important environmental issue is being addressed. “
Retail NZ has congratulated New World for its leadership on addressing plastic bags. Greg Harford, general manager for public affairs, says there’s increasing customer demand across the board for retailers to eliminate single-use plastic bags, and today’s announcement shows that New World is listening to that demand and acting on its customers' views.
He says that across the retail sector, Retail NZ is seeing that customers’ views about plastic bags are changing: “In many cases, customers are still needing bags to carry their shopping, but they are increasingly willing to take their own or buy reusable bags when they go shopping. Retailers are responding to that, and taking steps to reduce or eliminate the numbers of single use plastic bags in circulation.”