Day one of plastic bag-free for 10 Countdowns across the country

From Checkpoint, 5:51 pm on 21 May 2018

Ten supermarkets around New Zealand have gone cold-turkey on plastic bags today.

Progressive Enterprises, which runs Countdown supermarkets, announced all its stores would be ditching single-use plastic bags by the end of the year and would be trialling the move at 10 stores around the country.

Johnsonville Countdown is piloting the change. 

Store manager Brendan Willan said any issues the piloting stores came across would be worked out before the ban went nationwide to all 182 stores.

"We're the guinea pigs and we're so proud to be a part of it."

He said so far there had been no issues and customer feedback had been positive.

"Most people so far knew it was happening there's been posters up in the store. We've had lots of media announcements over the comms system - we've only had one customer today that didn't know about it."

Some stores in Auckland, Northland, Christchurch, Blenheim, Whanganui and Gisborne also ditched the bags today, in the first step of eliminating the use of about 350 million each year in New Zealand. 

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester said it would help ease the pressure on the region's waste management.

"We have literally thousands and thousands of plastic bags that travel through the wind; they get up and escape from the landfill; they get in the waterway and end up in the ocean.

"We have a full-time person just employed to collect up the plastic bags and tie them down. So it's great these aren't going to fill."

Last year students from Samuel Marsden Collegiate School handed a petition to government with nearly 18,000 signatures calling for action on bags. 

One of the students, Cici Davie, said the petition helped start a conversation which prompted many retailers rethinking using them. 

"I think it does show the massive support within communities that this issue has and despite the Government not yet implementing any laws around it."

Car manufacturer Volvo announced it would remove all single-use plastics bags by 2019, while The Warehouse Group said it would also them for compostable ones customers could buy.