Suck it up: last gasp for supermarket plastic straws

By October 1, these plastic straws at Countdown supermarkets will be consigned to history.

Countdown supermarkets removed all packets of single-use plastic straws from its shelves this week as part of the company’s commitment to reduce unnecessary plastic in its stores.

The straws were to be cleared from shelves by October 1 and will also not be sold online.

More sustainable alternatives available include bamboo, metal and paper straws.

Countdown’s corporate affairs general manager, Kiri Hannifin, says it is estimated that about 500 million straws are used and thrown away in the USA each day.

“While we don’t have figures for their use here, what we do know is that plastic straws are almost impossible to recycle because they of their size and lightness,” she says. “They also hold no value post-use so are not attractive to those companies who are purchasing and re-using used plastic,” she says. “Seeing those widely publicised images of turtles with straws coming out of their nostrils is confronting and although straws account for a small part of marine pollution, they cause significant harm and are mostly unnecessary for beverage consumption.”

She says that by phasing out single-use plastic straws from the 182-store network Countdown hopes to remove 11.6 million plastic straws a year from landfill.

A spokesperson says that at this stage the phase out is for packets of single-use plastic straws only and does not include the mini straws found on some juice boxes.

“We’re working with suppliers to review plastic and packaging right across our business, which will include considering options for other straws in future,” the spokesperson says.

In addition, Countdown Whangaparaoa will phase out single use plastic bags from October 8. The Orewa and Silverdale stores banned the single use plastic bags in August (HM August 15).
Countdown stated earlier this year that it will move towards 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025.


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