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Countdown to phase out plastic bags from its supermarkets

The ban will result in 350 million fewer plastic bags ending up in rubbish tips.

There has been positive reaction to the news that supermarket chain Countdown is to phase out single-use plastic bags by the end of 2018.

The supermarket chain said customer research it carried out found 83 percent support for phasing out plastic carrier bags.

Countdown managing director Dave Chambers said the ban would result in 350 million fewer plastic bags ending up in rubbish tips.

"Now is the right time to take the lead, phase out single-use plastic carrier bags and introduce better options for customers."

Environmental group Greenpeace has praised the company for its "bold move".

Greenpeace campaigner Elena Di Palma said it made them the "leader of the pack on plastic reduction".

She also called on Foodstuffs New World to follow suit and eliminate single-use bags.

"Banning the bag is the only answer that deals with the terrible impact of plastic pollution on our oceans and sea life," said Di Palma.

"We are now calling on the new government to step in and regulate to completely stamp out single-use plastic bags."

The move is likely to see even more New Zealanders take their own resuable bags to the supermarket.

New World is surveying its customers on whether they want a charge for using plastic bags but has not asked them if they want plastic bags phased out.

Pak n'Save, which is owned by Foodstuffs, currently charges for plastic bags as does The Warehouse.

Foodstuffs managing director Steve Anderson said New World's BagVote has prompted a lot of debate about the issue of plastic.

"Our focus continues to be on our total sustainability programme, we are really proud of the way our customers are getting stuck into soft plastic recycling, contributing to more than eight tonnes a week being collected by the programme," he said in a statement.