Countdown offers reusable baskets to customers

The plastic bag ban implemented last year came with an unexpected consequence.

A number of supermarkets suddenly found themselves short of shopping baskets after hundreds went missing.

Now, Countdown is offering light-fingered customers the chance to take home their own baskets - legally.

The new reusable, multipurpose baskets are available for $10.

"They can not only shop with it but they can take it home, stack it in the cupboard," says Countdown spokeswoman Kiri Hannifin.

The basket is made by plastics company Sistema out of scrap resin, collected during the manufacturing process, which is ground down and re-used. 

However, not everyone is convinced the baskets are needed.

"Depends on the price really," one person told Newshub. 

"I prefer my reusable bag," another said.

Greenpeace is applauding the initiative.

"Two years ago it would've felt impossible that we would give up the convenience of single-use plastic bags, but here we see people in businesses coming up with creative solutions when they're required to do so," said Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner Jessica Desmond.

"It's infinitely better than the single-use plastic we were choking the ocean with before."

Countdown says the baskets are stronger than virgin plastic and can be recycled. The initiative may also put a stop to their baskets disappearing.

"Our baskets were pretty popular after the ban," Hannifin says. "New Zealanders quite like a basket, so now they can buy one from us."

They hope shoppers will take to the new alternative - but not before paying at the counter.