Govt to phase-out single-use plastic bags

Some 79 per cent of plastic waste produced now sits in landfill

New Zealand has become the latest country to ban single-use plastic bags in an effort to tackle plastic pollution.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says, "Here in New Zealand one of the top five items found in coastal litter is single-use plastic bags".

New Zealand's government today announced it will phase out single-use plastic bags by 2019, a move Greenpeace is calling a win for people power and another big step towards addressing the global plastic pollution crisis. "The crisis we're facing requires comprehensive regulation and corporate action to immediately move away from single-use plastics".

This includes options for the date the phase-out is to be complete by, what bags should be included, any retailers that should be exempted, and how best to help people with the transition.

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.

When she made the announcement about the ban, she had three children read aloud their letters requesting the government to take action against the plastic pollution before leading them off to help clean up the beach.

"Getting rid of the bags is an even better result than we could have hoped for a year later and I'm delighted the new government has listened to what New Zealanders want", the Mayor says.

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"New Zealanders chew through about 1.6 billion single-use bags every year".

Once the bags are removed, The Warehouse and Warehouse Stationery, Noel Leeming and Torpedo7 will offer a broad range of affordable, environmentally friendly plastic-free reusable bags.

Are biodegradable and compostable bags included in this consultation?

"Rogue bags are also contributing to the increased amount of plastic in the environment, and we are slowly discovering how much of a problem that is". Some retailers have begun implement their bans.

To have your say visit www.mfe.govt.nz.

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.

She said the ban would have a positive impact on its recycling scheme which aims to recover 35 per cent of all plastic bags in New Zealand by 2025. But right now New Zealand has no such plan.

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