Whanganui's Victoria Ave Countdown was one of the first in the country to ditched singled-use plastic bags yesterday.

Moving away from providing free supermarket bags caused barely a ripple, store manager Tanya Gibney said. Customers, she said, were well prepared. There have been signs warning of it, and checkout operators have been telling customers.

Many shoppers were already moving away from taking the single-use plastic bags, Gibney said. Research has found 80 per cent of New Zealanders are in favour of scrapping them.

The Whanganui Countdown was one of 10 nationwide to phase out the bags this week.


Customer Jennie McLachlan didn't know the change was happening, but had been thinking about the plastic situation for a while.

"I think it's good, I really do," she said.

The store's checkout operators were wearing green T-Shirts on the Bag for Good theme yesterday. Customers were free to bring their own "bag, box, bucket, wheelbarrow" to carry their groceries home.

Failing that, staff were selling them reusable black bags for $1 each. The bags have been tested for use 150 times, and the store will replace them free when they are no longer usable.

It has sold hundreds in the last few days, Gibney said.

Or customers could pay 15c for a thicker plastic bag, also reusable 20 times, with any profits from the sales going to a charity. The availability of those "emergency" bags will be reviewed in mid 2019.

They could also buy a reusable chiller bag for $4, or a reusable jute bag. All the plastic bags can be brought back to the supermarket and left there for possible recycling.

Countdown is also looking for other ways to cut down on single-use plastic.


"This includes sourcing more sustainable alternatives in the produce department as well as working directly with our partners in the supply chain to reduce plastic in other areas, look for better replacements and encourage better end of life solutions," corporate affairs manager Kiri Hannifin said.

Other stores are expected to follow Countdown's move. One of those is the Mitre 10 Group. Its 128 hardware stores are phasing out single-use plastic bags and boot liners from July 1, replacing them with reusable $1 bags and recycled paper boot liners.

Mitre 10 will also review other forms of plastic packaging and its own overall waste reduction.