Single-use plastic shopping bags ban kicks in

The ban on single-use plastic shopping bags, which takes effect on 1 July, is a step towards healthier oceans and giving nature a hand, says Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage.

“New Zealanders are proud of our country’s clean, green reputation and want to help ensure we live up to it. Ending the use of single-use plastic shopping bags helps do that” says Eugenie Sage.

“From tomorrow, 1 July, the ban will cover all retailers. People who take their own re-useable bags help local businesses and markets. New regulations mean such businesses can no longer provide their customers with a single-use plastic shopping bag to carry their purchases.”

“The ban should ensure less plastic ends up in rivers, streams, stormwater systems and the ocean so seabirds, fish, turtles, and marine mammals are less vulnerable to being harmed by it.”

“At the start of plastic-free July, the plastic shopping bag ban is one step to tackling New Zealand’s waste issues. We also need to recharge our materials recovery and recycling systems and shift to a circular economy. 

Mainstream supermarkets have already made the change away from single-use plastic shopping bags and report that this has stopped tens of millions of bags being handed out for as little as 10 minutes use each.

New Zealanders appear to have made a rapid transition to reusable bags, with 56% of shoppers in April 2018 bringing reusable bags increasing to 91% always/often bringing their own reusable bag in September 2018, according to survey research done for the Ministry for the Environment.

“Government regulations and the sum of many individual actions make a difference. New Zealanders remembering to take their reusable bags is stopping tens of millions of single-use plastic bags becoming waste each year.”

“Lightweight single-use plastic shopping bags pollute nature because they are easily transported by wind and water. The phase-out encourages people to act with nature in mind,” Eugenie Sage says.

Businesses were given six months ahead of the ban to phase-out single-use plastic bags.

The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) has focused on educating businesses about the ban and have a toolkit for businesses on their website

There is an online portal on MfE’s website so people can report businesses that are still giving out single-use plastic bags after the ban takes effect.