Call to allow BYO containers at all NZ food stores

By Jessica Tyson

All food stores around Aotearoa are being encouraged to allow customers to bring their own containers for kai sold over the counter.

It comes after Countdown announced this week that all of their New Zealand supermarkets will accept BYO containers for food.

Countdown butcher Riki Kerekere, of Ngāpuhi and te Aitanga a Mahaki, says it’s a huge step forward.

“I think every butcher shop, veggie shop, should continue to ask people to bring their own containers.”

Statistics from Plastics New Zealand show that, on average, every New Zealander consumes about 30kg of plastic packaging every year but only recycles 6kgs.

Countdown spokesperson Kiri Hannifin says the new change gives customers the choice to reduce single-use plastics.

"We know Kiwis are passionate about reducing single-use plastic," she says, "Reusing your own container is a small way to help and, as Plastic Free July comes to an end, I'm very pleased to let our customers know that BYO containers are now a reality."

But Kerekere says, as a country, “We need to do a better job”.

“What we need to do as an industry is, we need to fix how we make that packaging, biodegradable, reusable so we're not polluting our beautiful planet because you can see it now with what's going on around the world with plastic."

He says health is also important to look out for when packaging food.

“Unfortunately we also have to think about hygiene, got to find a way to cover that meat, keep it safe and not make people sick.”

Staff use Ecostore dishwashing liquid before filling the customer’s container to ensure they are clean before use.

“Just a few more steps to go and you know we're doing good things, at the moment its good,” says Kerekere.

The move comes following a pledge made by Countdown and Foodstuffs to use 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging in their own brands by 2025.