New Zealand-based supermarket chain Countdown’s stores in Timaru have phased out single-use plastic bags from checkout counters.

A company announcement on 27 September noted that 85% of its stores will complete the phase-out process from early-October with an additional 67 stores starting from 8 October.

It is currently offering a $1 reusable bag or a $0.15 emergency bag made using 55-micron plastic. It is also asking customers to bring their own bag.

Countdown spokeswoman was quoted by stuff.co.nz as saying: “The $0.15 reusable emergency bag is provided as an affordable last resort option for customers when they get caught out with a load of groceries and have forgotten to bring their own bags.

“Any profits from the sale of this bag will be donated. Our first preference is that customers bring their own bags with them when they shop with us.”

“Having more retailers come on-board to remove plastic bags will also help customers get used to reusable bags as the norm.”

Over the next year, the retailer is planning to monitor the number of customers who use the $0.15 bag and may discontinue providing the reusable bags if more people continue to bring them.

The spokeswoman added: “Having more retailers come on-board to remove plastic bags will also help customers get used to reusable bags as the norm.

“Both the $0.15 bag and our $1 Bag for Good bag are able to be recycled where the Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme bins are available.”

Countdown is planning to phase out single-use plastic bags from all of its 180 stores by the end of the year.