No plastic bag ban for NZ Countdown supermarkets

Countdown supermarkets in New Zealand won’t stop giving customers plastic bags, despite plans from their Australian parent company to phase out their usage.

Woolworths Australia has announced it will stop giving single-use plastic bags to shoppers within 12 months.

Other Australian supermarket chains including Coles and Harris Farm Markets are doing the same.

In New Zealand, a ban on the bags is still being discussed by the government and retailers.

Countdown spokesperson Kate Porter said the company believed a national policy covering all chains would be the best approach and Countdown is part of a government-led group looking at the issue.

She said the situation was different in Australia, where four states had already implemented bans on plastic bags, with another state bringing one in from next year.

New Zealand councils and mayors have previously called for a national levy on single-use plastic bags, saying they impose significant environmental and cleanup costs.

The government has backed a soft plastic recycling scheme, but currently less than 2 percent of New Zealand’s plastic bags are recycled.

School children also staged a protest outside Parliament last month, urging a ban.