Alternatives to single-use plastic shopping bags by business type

This page has alternatives to single-use plastic shopping bags for different types of businesses. The ban on single-use plastic shopping bags (under 70 microns) takes effect in New Zealand on 1 July 2019.

How to use this information

  1. Find your retailer type in the alphabetical list below, eg grocery store.
  2. Find out what type of bags/packaging your customers want.
  3. Read our suggested alternatives to single-use plastic bags.
  4. Find out what else you can do.

Butcher shop

Café/restaurant

Clothing store

Dairy or convenience store

Gift shop

Grocery store

Local market 

Take-away shop

Other retail store (eg, hardware or homeware)

Butcher shop

Customers need bags which are easy to carry, can handle damp items and contain leaks, and are easy to clean.

Suggestion

Allow customers to bring bags from home. You could give them a small discount.

Other options

  • Encourage customers to bring reusable bags by offering an incentive (eg, small discount, free item or stamp on a loyalty card).
  • Provide boxes for customers who forget to bring in a bag or for large orders.
  • Hygiene is an important consideration, so opt for bags that are easy to wash. 
  • Bag options include:
    • bags made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
    • heavy-weight bags made of low density polyethylene (LDPE)
    • insulated cooler bags (suitable for prolonged reuse). 
  • If possible, choose bags with a high percentage of recycled content. This can reduce environmental impact and help create demand for recycled products.  

Café/restaurant    

Customers need bags which are easy to carry, affordable and contain spills.    

Suggestion

Encourage customers to bring bags or take food away without a bag. Some may have bags in their car boot. Let them know about the upcoming ban.

Other options

  • Provide boxes for customers with large orders.
    • You may already have a surplus of cardboard boxes from bulk purchases.
  • Rethink your packaging – would different packaging be better at containing liquid. To reduce leakage, be careful not to overfill containers.
  • Allow customers to bring in their own containers from home – you could provide a small discount.

Clothing store 

Customers need bags which are easy to carry, can fit multiple and/or bulky items.  

Suggestion

Do not offer a bag. If asked, offer a bag from the list below.

Suggested bag options include:  

  • woven and non-woven polypropylene
  • bags made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) 
  • light-weight synthetic fabric bags
  • cotton or canvas bags 
  • heavy-weight bags made of low density polyethylene (LDPE). 

If possible, choose bags with a high percentage of recycled content. This can reduce environmental impact and help create demand for recycled products.  

Other options 

  • Do not offer a bag. Customers can bring their own bags or take items away without a bag. 
  • Promote the use of reusable bags by offering an incentive (e.g. small discount, points or stamp on a loyalty card).
  • Sign-up to a community bag share scheme (e.g. Boomerang bags).

Dairy or convenience store    

Customers need bags which are easy to carry, can hold multiple items, and are durable and affordable. 

Suggestion

Let customers bring bags or carry items away without a bag. Some may have bags in their car boot. Let them know about the upcoming ban.

Other options 

  • Provide boxes for customers who forget to bring in bags. 
  • Sign-up to a community bag share scheme (e.g. Boomerang bags).
  • Offer a bag. Suggested options include:  
    • woven and non-woven polypropylene
    • bags made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
    • light-weight synthetic fabric bags
    • cotton or canvas bags 
    • heavy-weight bags made of low density polyethylene (LDPE).
  • If possible, choose bags with a high percentage of recycled content. This can reduce environmental impact and help create demand for recycled products. 

Gift shop

Customers need bags which are easy to carry and can fit bulky items.

Suggestion

Let customers bring bags or carry items away without a bag. Some may have bags in their car boot. Let them know about the upcoming ban. 

Other options

  • Promote the use of reusable bags by offering an incentive (e.g. small discount, points or stamp on a loyalty card). 
  • Sign-up for community bag share schemes (e.g. Boomerang bags). 
  • Offer a box or gift-wrapping instead. 

Grocery store

Customers need bags which are easy to carry, durable, hold multiple items, and keep items cool.

Suggestion

Encourage customers to bring bags rather than buying new each time.

Other options

  • Offer customers an incentive (e.g. small discount) to bring reusable bags.
    • Provide boxes for customers who forget to bring bags. 
    • Sign-up to a community bag share schemes (e.g. Boomerang bags).
    • Offer a selection of different bags for purchase or one type. Bag options include:  
      • woven and non-woven polypropylene
      • bags made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
      • insulated cooler bags (suitable for prolonged reuse) 
      • heavy-weight bags made of low density polyethylene (LDPE) 
      • jute 
      • cotton or canvas bags 
      • light-weight synthetic fabric bags
    • If possible, choose bags with a high percentage of recycled content. This can reduce environmental impact and help create demand for recycled products.  

    Local market 

    Customers need bags which are easy to carry, durable and can hold multiple items. They also need bags which can handle damp items and are easy to clean.

    Suggestion

    Ask customers to bring bags. Some may have bags in their car boot. Let them know about the upcoming ban.

    Other options

    • Offer reusable bags for sale.
    • Sign up to a community bag share scheme (e.g. Boomerang bags). 

    Take-away shop

    Customers need bags which are affordable, easy to carry and contains spills.            

    Suggestion

    Encourage customers to bring bags or take food away without a bag. Some may have bags in their car boot. Let them know about the upcoming ban.

    Other options

    • Rethink your packaging – would different packaging be better at containing liquid? To reduce leakage, be careful not to overfill containers.  
      • If you are rethinking your packaging, it is a great time to assess its recyclability (e.g. most councils do not accept polystyrene in kerbside recycling). Check your local council website [LGNZ website] for what is recyclable and compostable in your area.
    • Encourage customers to bring reusable bags by offering an incentive (e.g. small discount, free item or stamp on a loyalty card).
      • Many cafés already do this when customers bring in a reusable coffee cup.
    • Provide boxes for customers who forget to bring in a bag or for large orders.
      • You may already have a surplus of cardboard boxes from bulk purchases. 
    • Offer reusable bags for sale. 

    Other retail store (eg, hardware or homeware)

    Customers need bags that are easy to carry and can fit bulky items. 

    Suggestion

    Do not offer a bag. Customers can bring bags or take items away without a bag. Some may have bags in their car boot. Let them know about the upcoming ban. 

      Other options

      • Promote the use of reusable bags by offering an incentive (e.g. small discount, points or stamp on a loyalty card). 
      • Sign-up to a community bag share scheme (e.g. Boomerang bags). 
      • Offer a selection of bags for purchase or one type. Suggested options include:  
        • woven and non-woven polypropylene
        • bags made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
        • light-weight synthetic fabric bags
        • cotton or canvas bags 
        • jute 
        • heavy-weight bags made of low density polyethylene (LDPE)
        • insulated cooler bags (suitable for prolonged reuse). 
      • If possible, choose bags with a high percentage of recycled content. This can reduce environmental impact and help create demand for recycled products.  
      • Provide boxes. 
      Note: Paper bags or heavier LDPE bags (above 70 micron) are not included in the ban. These have not been included above as they are not as likely as the options provided to be a reusable alternative to single-use plastic shopping bags.
      Reviewed:
      15/04/19