Container ban stuns enviro-friendly customers

Emma Shi likes to take her own container to the supermarket to do her bit in helping the environment. - Photo: Supplied

Making environmentally friendly choices is something Emma Shi tries to do when she is out shopping - particularly at the supermarket.

But last week she was shocked when she was not allowed to use her own container at the deli.

"The girl at the deli said, 'oh [we] have a new rule that [we're] not allowed to accept people's containers anymore because they're worried people will get sick, not from their products but from not cleaning their own containers properly'," she says.

Emma says these kinds of barriers stop people from doing their bit to reduce the use of plastic.

"It's letting us become complacent to just keep doing what we always do."

In a statement, Countdown says it has a responsibility to make sure all the food it sold was safe for customers.

It says while it understood and appreciated that some customers wanted to bring their own containers, that had to be balanced with its over-arching obligation to guarantee food safety.

Countdown says a container ban is currently the policy but it is a space that is evolving and changing.

But Supermarket company Foodstuffs, which owns New World, Pak'n Save and Four Square, has a trial at one of its stores allowing customers to bring their own containers for meat and seafood.

New World Howick has been carrying out the trial for the past two months.

Its owner Brendon Jones says he has had an overwhelmingly positive response.

"We've had customers saying, 'great, you're preserving the environment for future generations' but we've had other people say, 'it's great not to have our rubbish or recycle bins loaded with the plastic'."

Brendon says there are food safety protocols that are followed when dealing with customers' containers and only containers that were clean and had a leak-proof lid were accepted.

He says expanding the BYO containers to the deli section was tricky, but they are not ruling it out.

"Service deli primarily has already cooked or ready-to-eat products, for example sliced meats and salads whereas if you look at the butchery and the seafood, 99.9 per cent of those items are there to be taken home, cooked and consumed so it makes quite a difference from a food safety point of view," he said.

Two days ago, the government announced its plans to phase out single-use plastic bags by July next year.

Trevor Craig from the Bin Inn says its customers are encouraged to bring their own containers.

He says the Bin Inn stores are well on their way to getting rid of plastic bags.

The specialty grocery chain sells mainly dry wholefoods - often in bulk.

But Trevor says phasing out plastic for packaged meat will be difficult for other supermarkets.

"There's a lot more to that, a lot more research required and you're not going to see an answer to that anytime soon because you have to be careful of protection of food."



Posted on 15-08-2018 20:13 | By Johnney

To the supermarkets. Why don’t you weigh it on a bit of grease proof paper, wrap it and give to customers. Is this too simple or too obvious.

My thoughts exactly

Posted on 15-08-2018 17:20 | By Angel74

bringing in your own containers may also mean bringing in unwanted germs to the supermarket......

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