Countdown introduces plastic-free trial in produce department

Countdown's produce department is going plastic-free, starting with a 10-week trial.

As of February 14, three Countdown stores in Manukau, Ponsonby and Orewa will begin the plastic-free experiment.

Some product lines, such as plastic-wrapped corn, will be eliminated completely. Sixty-eight percent of others will be left loose or packaged with paper.

"So bags of potatoes, the grapes, the apples, cherry tomatoes, none of that will be in plastic anymore, we're going unwrapped," Countdown's Kiri Hannifin told Newshub.

The only exceptions are soft berries, telegraph cucumbers and bags of salad.

Hannifin says those items wouldn't last a day without packaging and the food waste would outweigh that of the plastic.

"When food waste rots in the landfill, it creates methane... it's a terrible contributor to climate change, so we're really mindful of food waste."

The trial will remove 1000 kilograms of plastic from the supermarket and is costing more than $500,000.

Countdown introduces plastic-free trial in produce department
Photo credit: File

Each year, 280,000 tonnes of plastic end up in our landfills.

EnviroWaste's general manager of post collection, Carl King, says a portion of that plastic could have been recycled.

"I don't think people have any idea. They put it out on the curbside, they go to a transfer station, and as long as it's gone from their sight and out of mind, that's the end of it."

The supermarket will be trialing a plastic-free approach in their produce department.
The supermarket will be trialing a plastic-free approach in their produce department. Photo credit: File

AUT waste management expert Jeff Seadon says our supermarkets have a huge responsibility when it comes to reducing our overall plastic consumption. 

"They determine what comes into their place, they determine what consumers will buy."

More than half of New World's produce department is already plastic-free and all plastic punnets are recyclable.

New World also uses netting onion bags, which can decompose in a garden within weeks. 

Three will broadcast a three part documentary series The War on Plastic beginning on  3 February. 

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