New Zealand to phase out single-use plastic bags

Sergio Conner
August 12, 2018

New Zealand is intending to outlaw plastic bags in a bid to cut back on waste.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage announced the move to phase out the bags over the next year, with a six month phase-out period proposed.

"We're phasing out single-use plastic bags so we can better look after our environment and safeguard New Zealand's clean, green reputation", she said, according to The Guardian newspaper.

"Up to 12.7 million metric tonnes of plastic waste enter the ocean every year - that's the equivalent of one garbage truck every minute and single-use plastic bags are just the tip of the iceberg", said Hunter.

Greenpeace joined the movement for a regulatory bag ban on single use plastic bags a year ago, quickly gaining widespread support with 65,000 signatures delivered to parliament in February 2018.

Momentum is growing on tackling the huge amount of waste caused by single-use plastic bags.

A petition was started earlier in the year to ban plastic bags in the country and was signed by more than 60,000 New Zealanders.

Single-use plastic bags could be less common at beach clean-ups with the government announcement.

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Caroline Marr, director of small clothing retailer The Carpenters Daughter, also welcomed the ban. "I always try and reuse my bags and the less bags in the environment the better". "But it's important we take the time now to get this right so we can help all New Zealanders adjust their shopping habits".

Steve Anderson, managing director of Foodstuffs NZ, said the Government's plans for a ban would put everyone in retail on the same page.

Are biodegradable and compostable bags included in this consultation?

Around the world, governments are implementing comprehensive strategies to end plastic pollution with measures from levies, bottle deposits to banning a wide range of single use plastics. We need to help the environment.

Retailers are also being told to consider alternatives to single-use plastic bags, including reusable bags in heavier-duty plastic, composite bags of hessian with other materials, and long-lasting bags made of lightweight nylon, cotton, recycled fabric or jute.

"Since May we've had ten stores go plastic bag-free and in those twelve weeks we've stopped five million bags going into the environment".

New Zealand plans to ban disposable plastic shopping bags by next July as the nation tries to live up to its clean-and-green image.

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