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"Good stuff Foodstuffs!", Greens say

17 April 2009

"Good stuff Foodstuffs!", Greens say

The Green Party today described the decision of Foodstuffs supermarkets to introduce a 5c per plastic bag charge as a welcome step forward.

Green Party Co-leader Russel Norman said, "Good stuff Foodstuffs! I'm pleased to see the next step voluntarily taken to reduce plastic bag use being taken."

Foodstuffs' New World, Four Square and South Island Pak'n'Save stores will join their North Island Pak'n'Save counterparts and introduce the fee from 3 August 2009.

"I also hope that this move will inspire the Government into broader action to reduce unnecessary plastic bag use, particularly to use its powers in the Greens' Waste Minimisation Act passed last year."

"What we need now is for the Government to back up Foodstuffs' good initiative by introducing mandatory product stewardship for plastic bags. "Product stewardship is a system where initiatives like Foodstuffs' are applied to all retailers to ensure a level playing-field - we don't want the good guys to be disadvantaged by other companies freeloading or refusing to do something about their bags.

Unfortunately the Government has rejected plastic bags as a priority, Dr Norman noted, and earlier this month the Prime Minister squashed his Environment Minister's desire to investigate mandatory bag reduction options.

"Plastic bags are not the biggest peril to the planet at this time - especially compared to the crises of climate change and conservation - but they do spoil our environment, harm wildlife and add to the waste mountain in our landfills," said Dr Norman.

"They are also easy to do something about, and the public is overwhelmingly behind bold moves to reduce plastic bag use. Foodstuffs' move is an important recognition of this."

The Green Party Co-leader encouraged Kiwis to lobby their local Progressives supermarket (including Countdown, Foodtown and Woolworths) to follow Foodstuffs' lead, and to write to waste@mfe.govt.nz and tell the Government they want plastic bags to have mandatory product stewardship.

"The supermarkets' last move to reduce plastic bags followed a Green Party campaign in 2007, and today's announcement follows the efforts of the GetReal campaign to take the next step - it shows that community action can lead to real change," said Dr Norman.

Foodstuffs' bag fee announcement today follows the June 2007 agreement by supermarket chains Progressive Enterprises and Foodstuffs to reduce plastic bag use by 20%. This followed a highly visible "bags not" campaign from the Green Party.

References: Product Stewardship consultation - http://www.mfe.govt.nz/issues/waste/consultation.html Foodstuffs supermarket chain - http://www.foodstuffs.co.nz/ Progressive supermarket chain - http://www.countdown.co.nz/ GetReal campaign - http://getreal.org.nz/

ENDS

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