Unpackit Awards 2013: Countdown shamed, Rethink applauded

Countdown has been named and shamed as this year's worst offender in the packaging stakes – but on the upside, the Unpackit Awards have put the spotlight on winning local company Rethink and its nifty reusable fresh produce bags.

Countdown has been named and shamed as this year's worst offender in the packaging stakes – but on the upside, the Unpackit Awards have put the spotlight on winning local company Rethink and its nifty reusable fresh produce bags.

Made from unbleached organic cotton, the bags are biodegradable and designed to bring along on your fruit and vegetable shop, costing $2.99 a pop. They're available in multi and mini packs, plus there's a string bag version for your milk, bread and other groceries.

Unpackit organiser Sophie Ward said she was delighted at the public response to the Unpackit Awards this year, which were decided by 15,632 votes. A third of voters chose fruit and vegetables on meat trays and wrapped in plastic as their most hated packaging.

“People really love the Rethink Fresh Produce bags, but their distribution has been limited because they’re a small company. If all our supermarkets sold them in every fresh produce section, that would be a real breakthrough. It could significantly reduce the amount of packaging used to sell fruit and vegetables.”

Foodstuffs (last year's biggest loser in the Unpackit awards) sells Rethink bags in some of its New World stores. In the past year, the chain has instructed its stores to restrict the use of polystyrene meat trays to butchery products only and estimates that 30 percent have achieved that.

Ward says: “It’s not up to shoppers to decide how things come wrapped up on the shelves. That decision is made by businesses and retailers, so the responsibility of choosing smart packaging falls on their shoulders.”

Second place for best packaging went to Chelsea Sugar: “Many people told us they voted for Chelsea Sugar’s 1.5 kilo paper bag in the Best Packaging Award because it is so simple, is fully recyclable and has been the same forever.”

Third place, meanwhile, went to Ecostore for its range of recyclable packaging and refill systems.

Dell and its overzealous computer monitor packaging (non-recyclable) was the runner-up for worst packaging, followed by Nespresso with its single serve capsules, which cannot be collected for kerbside recycling.