Countdown has today announced it will no longer be selling packs of single-use plastic straws.
The company estimates that the change will remove as many as 11.6 million straws from circulation and the waste stream each year.
This comes after the company’s June announcement that it would be phasing out single-use plastic bags.
Countdown’s general manager of corporate affairs and sustainability Kiri Hannifin said the company was focused on removing as much unnecessary plastic as possible from its stores.
“Like other plastic and packaging, straws can have a disastrous impact on the marine environment if they end up there,” Hannifin said.
“One of the best ways we can reduce that impact is by moving away from selling products that are used once and then thrown away, and by making more reusable and recyclable options available.”
The company would replace plastic straws with a range of alternatives including bamboo, metal and paper straws.
Hannifin also promised there would be more changes to follow as the company continued to take on plastic.
Countdown isn’t only the major local business to be taking aim at plastic.
Foodstuffs, the owner of Pak ‘n Save and New World, is also taking steps to phase out numerous plastic products.
“We have already removed plastic stemmed cotton buds, microbeads and of course bags are on the way out,” Foodstuffs spokeswoman Antoinette Laird said.
Laird said the company was also working to phase out plastic straws, but there were many customers who also depend on these.
“Metal and paper straws don’t really cut the mustard for disabled customers, who are more easily able to use and re-use bendable plastic straws to drink cold and warm drinks.”
Metallic straws are particularly problematic for disabled customers because they heat up when used for hot drinks.
Alongside the major retailers, the hotel industry is also taking the issue seriously, with the Sudima Hotel earlier this year making a commitment to phase out all single-use plastic products by 2020.
The Hilton hotel has also instituted a company-wide ban on plastic straws.