Countdown praised for moving to phase out plastic bags

The news that Countdown's single-use plastic bags will be phased out has been welcomed by environmentalists and shoppers.

The supermarket retailer announced on Wednesday that plastic bags will be phased out across all stores by the end of 2018.

Greenpeace released a statement praising Countdown for the move.

"Massive props to Countdown today. They've taken a bold move that makes them leader of the pack on plastic reduction," said Greenpeace campaigner Elena Di Palma.

New Zealand-based marine conservation group Our Seas Our Future said they hope the move inspires other retailers.

"We hope that this sets a precedent for other major supermarkets to take corporate responsibility in phasing out single-use plastic bags," said Our Seas Our Future trustee Noel Jhinku.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff was also quick to celebrate the news saying, "I want to reduce plastic bag use in Auckland and welcome Countdown's announcement to phase out plastic bags by the end of next year

"Reducing plastic bag use is a crucial part of decreasing waste and protecting our environment. I encourage others to follow suit."

World Wildlife Fund head of campaigns Peter Hardstaff hopes other retailers will follow their example.

"Plastic pollution is a major problem for the environment, particularly the oceans.

"Plastic waste can end up being accidentally eaten by marine wildlife, such as turtles and whales, so it is vital that, wherever possible, we eliminate this pollution."

Auckland Zoo says they're "delighted", as they've seen the consequences of pollution first-hand

"Our veterinary team in particular… treat and rehabilitate sick and injured sea turtles that wash up on our shores," says Auckland Zoo director Jonathan Wilcken says. "[They] are increasingly seeing, first-hand, just how fatal plastic waste can be for our marine life.

"It's heartening news for our oceans and marine animals that are so tragically and disproportionately impacted by plastic waste, and we hope many more businesses and organisations will be inspired to do the same."

Auckland Zoo phased out single-use plastic bags over six years ago.

On social media, users were positive to the change, with, many commenting on the Countdown Facebook page.

User Lyn Gatenby said: "At last! Once retailers no longer supply plastic bags alternative thinking will come into play. I will support you Countdown."