George Weston Foods starts eliminating plastic tags on bread bags

Auckland, 13 August 2021 – Starting today, George Weston Foods (GWF) will replace plastic bread bag tags with fully recyclable cardboard ones on Ploughmans Bakery and Bürgen bread. The new tags will be used to seal all Ploughmans and Bürgen loaves throughout New Zealand, seven days a week.

The rollout follows a series of successful trials, which have given George Weston Foods confidence that the new tags are effective in sealing in freshness and taste, and that a complete transition from plastic can be undertaken without compromising quality. This is the first step in the company’s plastic tag elimination programme, which will eliminate 7 million plastic tags from the waste stream in the first year and ultimately remove 75 million. This will represent over 26,250 kgs of plastic that will no longer litter footpaths, roads, carparks and beaches or leach into waterways from landfill.

GWF is the first New Zealand bread maker to embark on such an ambitious programme, which is part of its commitment to environmentally responsible packaging under a four-year sustainability programme to reduce and eliminate waste across its supply chain. The programme involves a staged rollout of multiple initiatives and multiple partnerships across all its brands, including Tip Top, Bürgen, Ploughmans, Golden Crumpets and Big Ben.

The company will progressively ensure all packaging across these brands is 100 per cent recyclable or reusable by 2025. Because GWF’s bread are already recyclable under the nationwide Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme, once the cardboard bread tags are added to Bürgen and Ploughmans bread, all parts of the packaging will be fully recyclable. While the tags are compostable, GWF will encourage consumers to recycle the new cardboard bread tags in kerbside recycling bins.

“New Zealand consumers are concerned about reducing plastic waste, and GWF is responding to the challenge,” says Mark Bosomworth, General Manager Baking Division, George Weston Foods (NZ) Limited. “Removing plastic tags is not our only goal, but it’s a good first step, a visible sign of our intent and a reminder to us to continuously seek out sustainable packaging innovations that will further reduce waste.”

A foundation principle of GWF’s sustainability programme is that waste reduction in packaging materials will not be at the expense of increased food waste, and bread tags are essential to maintaining freshness of the bread. Because of the way people carry, store and reseal bread, the cardboard tags had to meet stringent criteria to keep bread safe. They had to be able to keep air out, withstand freezing, moisture and humidity, handle multiple re-seals and protect the bread during transport and carrying,

“The new sustainable bread tags promise no compromise on freshness and taste. Customers can expect to be provided with the same GWF quality that millions of New Zealanders enjoy freshly baked every day and have trusted since the 1950s,” said Mr Bosomworth.

GWF’s environmental initiatives span water, energy and waste, and the company has committed to the following packaging targets:

  • 100% of all packaging to be reusable or recyclable by 2025 or earlier
  • 70% of plastic packaging to be recycled by 2025
  • 30% average recycled content to be included across all packaging by 2025
  • Problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging will be phased out through design, innovation or introduction of sustainable alternatives.

You can read more about GWF’s sustainability programme on:


About George Weston Foods
George Weston Foods is one of New Zealand’s largest manufacturers of bread and bakery products. Launched in the early 1950s, following the purchase of Stormont’s Bakery in Kingsland, the company today produces over 1.2 million loaves of bread, buns, rolls, muffins, and crumpets each week under the Tip Top, Bürgen, Ploughman’s, Big Ben, Golden and Bazaar brands. George Weston Foods is part of Associated British Foods plc (ABF), an international food, ingredients and retail group with sales of £13.3bn and over 113,000 employees in 47 countries.

Media contact:
Allan Botica
Botica Butler Raudon Partners
021 400 500

Cardboard Bread Tag FAQ

What is GWF Baking NZ announcing?2021-08-17T16:56:27+12:00

In a New Zealand first, GWF Baking NZ has announced a move to more sustainable packaging by introducing 100% recycled and recyclable cardboard bread tags, designed to lock in long lasting freshness and taste.

Launching Nationally across Ploughmans Bakery and Bürgen brands in August 2021 our carboard tags can be recycled in kerbside recycling bins. The best way to do this is to tuck the tag inside other paper or carboard products (such as a used envelope), to give them the best chance of being upcycled into a new product.

We are aiming to remove 7 million plastic tags from our waste streams by the end of 2021, and this will increase to 75 million pieces of plastic with the roll out of the 100% recycled and recyclable carboard bread tags across our entire portfolio by end of 2022.

The transition to recyclable bread tags is the first of a series of packaging innovations under the Company’s new vision, “Feeding Kiwi families more sustainably”.

What are the bread tags made from?2021-08-04T14:50:50+12:00

The bread tags are made from 100 per cent recycled food-grade-safe cardboard from consumer and industrial sources.

Why was cardboard chosen as the material for your sustainable bread tags?2021-08-04T14:51:43+12:00

Our dedicated Research and Development and Sustainability teams explored a myriad of solutions from bamboo to corn starch and everything in between. Cardboard was selected for its strength, durability and sustainability, being both 100% recyclable and made from 100% recycled cardboard.

Will the cardboard bread tags still keep my bread fresh?2021-08-04T14:53:29+12:00

There will be no compromise on freshness or taste. The new sustainable bread tags provide the same sealed quality as their plastic equivalent.

How does the integrity of the tag hold up after several days use, or after storage in the freezer?2021-08-10T12:32:49+12:00

The tags have gone through rigorous testing and have demonstrated durability in even the toughest, and coldest of conditions.

Why are the bread tags only on Ploughmans and Bürgen? Why not all your products?2021-08-11T08:23:30+12:00

Due to the cost, design and engineering challenges involved in changing our equipment to handle the new cardboard bread tags, we will be doing a phased roll out. From August Ploughmans Bakery and Bürgen (some of NZ’s favourite bread brands) will move to the new cardboard tags nationally. Tip Top (the largest brand in bakery) will move to the cardboard bread tags across its Supersoft, Oatilicious and fruit bread brands in the first half of 2022.

How will this reduce plastic waste?2021-08-04T14:55:55+12:00

This initiative will remove 18 million plastic bread tags from NZ waste streams by the end of 2021 and will eventually eliminate over 75 million plastic tags per year when it’s rolled out on all brands nationally by the end of 2022.

Why are there different colours on the tags? What does this mean?2021-08-04T15:07:02+12:00

We use colour charting on our tags to help merchandisers identify and rotate product, preventing food waste.

They don’t offer soft plastics recycling in my area, what do I do with the bread bag?2021-08-04T14:58:28+12:00

The scheme operates at retail outlets in many cities, towns and regions throughout New Zealand. Keep checking the store locator of the Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme.

How do I recycle the new bread tags?2021-08-10T12:33:49+12:00

Ploughmans and Bürgen cardboard bread tags can be recycled in kerbside recycling bins. The best way to do this is to tuck the tag inside other paper or cardboard products. This gives them the best chance of being recycled while preventing them from being lost or caught in the transportation from home to the recycling plant.

What happens to my bread tags once I recycle them?2021-08-04T15:00:07+12:00

Once you drop your cardboard bread tags into your kerbside recycling bin, it will be taken to a Materials Recycling Facility. Here it will be sorted and separated into the paper and cardboard stream, which is then sent to a recycling facility to be recycled into new products, like packaging, toilet paper and egg cartons.

Why do I have to put my cardboard bread tag in another piece of recycling?2021-08-11T08:26:37+12:00

The size of the tags requires them to be tucked inside a similar waste stream, such as paper or cardboard (a used envelope is perfect), before placing them in your kerbside recycling bin. This prevents the tags from being lost or caught during transportation to the recycling plant, ensuring the best chance of being recycled.

Do you have a plan for replacing the plastic bags?2021-08-10T12:16:00+12:00

That is something we have our eye on. But that is a much larger and difficult project to crack. In the meantime we are encouraging our shoppers to recycle the bags via the Soft Plastic Recycling program of which we are a member of and now operates in both islands.