Published: Sun, August 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

New Zealand to ban plastic shopping bags from next year

New Zealand to ban plastic shopping bags from next year

New Zealand announced on Friday that it will phase out plastic shopping bags over the next year to protect the environment and its reputation as a clean, green country.

"We were seeing atrocious results that New Zealanders were becoming increasingly concerned with, from entire hillsides covered in single-use plastic bags dating as far back as the 1970s to researchers finding that around a third of dead turtles in New Zealand had likely ingested supermarket bags".

Supermarket giant Countdown, owned by Woolworths NZ, is supporting the ban.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stressed the importance of taking action on the issue.

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

Single-use plastic bags could be less common at beach clean-ups with the government announcement. Just this year 65,000 Kiwis, including Jurassic Park actor Sam Neill, signed a petition calling for the ban on single-use plastic bags, with many of those supporters marching through the streets of Wellington all the way to Parliament, according to the Otago Daily Times.

Caroline Marr, director of small clothing retailer The Carpenters Daughter, also welcomed the ban.

"It think this is an awesome thing", Marr said. "It won't be a problem at all for small retailers because being small you are more individualised".

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Are biodegradable and compostable bags included in this consultation?

"The government's efforts needs to begin with a ban on plastic bags, but quickly move on to eliminate other single use plastic offenders like coffee stirrers, straws and cutlery and then setting up a nationwide container deposit scheme for drink bottle collection", says Hunter.

"It's important we acknowledge that some customers may take a bit more help to get there".

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.

The Warehouse also announced it will ban all plastic bags within a year and is making moves to review its packaging too.

"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".

Single-use plastic bags are to be phased out, in an attempt to help New Zealand live up to its clean, green image. But right now New Zealand has no such plan.

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