Greenpeace is applauding the strong signal from the Associate Environment Minister today that she will ban plastic bags later in the year, but warns that if not comprehensive, the ban could fail to fix the problem.
“It’s very encouraging to hear the Associate Minister Sage is keen on banning single use plastic bags in the wake of our 72,000 people-powered petition and a letter signed by Jane Goodall, Helen Clark and Sam Neill, plus a number of retailers, and commitments to ditch single-use plastic bags by the two biggest supermarkets,” says Oceans Campaigner Emily Hunter.
“The fairest and most effective way of tackling one of the leading plastic pollutants in our oceans is national regulatory ban that all retailers must adhere to. A comprehensive ban would include eliminating false solutions like biodegradable and compostable bags and heavier weight plastic bags in the definition of the ban,” says Hunter.
Greenpeace has submitted to Government that a comprehensive ban would forbid retailers from selling or giving away plastic bags that were not designed for at least 125 uses, which encourages a shift from throwaway bags to reusable bags. The organisation calls on the Associate Minister to adopt this definition in the forthcoming regulation.
Hunter points out that the cloth reusable bags that Countdown, New World, Bunnings and Mitre 10 are already selling fit the definition of a robust reusable bag that is good for 125 uses and offers the best solution to current single-use plastic bags.
However Greenpeace warns a plastic bag ban alone will not solve the problem and calls on the Government to enact a plastic pollution strategy, that starts with a comprehensive ban on plastic bags and moves into eliminating other avoidable single-use plastics, like straws, cutlery and stir sticks, and then set up nationwide container deposit scheme to ensure better collection with drink bottles.
International governments, including the EU Commission have announced new legislation and draft proposals to tackling the scourge of single-use plastics, including bans and reductions of avoidable single-use plastic, container deposit scheme and labelling products that contain plastic.
“Given the urgency and scale of the problem, there’s an opportunity for New Zealand to become a world leader on the plastic crisis. But the first step is getting the plastic bag ban right so we can set a pathway for leading change on this issue in the future,” says Hunter.