Single-use plastic shopping bags will be phased out in New Zealand over the next year, according to an announcement from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage. “We’re phasing-out single-use plastic bags so we can better look after our environment and safeguard New Zealand’s clean, green reputation,” said Ardern.
“We’re listening to New Zealanders who want us to take action on this problem. This year 65,000 Kiwis signed a petition calling for an outright ban. It’s also the biggest single subject school children write to me about.
“Every year in New Zealand we use hundreds of millions of single-use plastic bags – a mountain of bags, many of which end up polluting our precious coastal and marine environments and cause serious harm to all kinds of marine life, and all of this when there are viable alternatives for consumers and business.
“It’s great that many people are already changing the way they shop. But it’s important we take the time now to get this right so we can help all New Zealanders adjust their shopping habits. We need to be far smarter in the way we manage waste and this is a good start.
“We are a Government determined to face up to New Zealand’s environmental challenges. Just like climate change, we’re taking meaningful steps to reduce plastics pollution so we don’t pass this problem to future generations,” said Ardern.
Sage said many countries and major cities around the world have successfully taken action on plastic pollution in recent years. She was confident New Zealanders would also embrace the change. She encouraged people to read the discussion document* and share their views.
“The Government will work alongside supermarkets and other retailers to help people make the change to reusable bags and we want to hear from New Zealanders as to how we can best do this.
“We’re proposing a nine month phase-out period and we’re confident this is a change we can make together.
“New Zealanders are proud of our country’s clean, green reputation and we want to help ensure we live up to it. Phasing out single-use plastic bags helps do that,” said Sage.
People have until Friday 14 September to share their views. 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.
*To have your say visit www.mfe.govt.nz.
Foodstuffs commits to reducing plastic waste
Last week Foodstuffs announced that all their other retail and wholesale stores would be joining New World, PAK’nSAVE and Four Square and no longer offer single use plastic carrier bags at the checkout from 1 January 2019. The other brands include Raeward Fresh, Liquorland, Gilmours, Trents, Henry’s, and On The Spot convenience stores. 776 stores in total. 350 million bags no longer in the environment.
The move is part of the 100% New Zealand owned Co-operative’s programme to do its bit to look after this precious country.
Steve Anderson, MD Foodstuffs NZ, reiterates, “We consider it a huge privilege and responsibility to do our best to look after our patch for centuries to come. Our commitment to reducing plastic waste is clear – and we’re working with our customers to make a real and meaningful difference beyond plastic bags.
“It’s important that we acknowledge that some customers may take a bit more help to get there. We’re going all out to ensure that we have very affordable reusable bag options available in our stores, we’ve given away millions of bags and we’ll continue to encourage Kiwis to get creative and hunt high and low in their homes, garages and garden sheds to find bags or containers they can clean up and re-purpose for their groceries,” says Anderson.
Countdown is part of the solution
Countdown’s General Manager Corporate Affairs, Kiri Hannifin, says Countdown is also focused on removing and reducing unnecessary packaging and plastic across its business and is committed to being part of the solution to New Zealand’s current plastic packaging problem.
Countdown will phase out single-use plastic carrier bags at a further 42 stores from 13 August, resulting in more than two million less bags entering New Zealand’s waste stream each week.
This move means that nearly a third of all Countdown supermarkets across the country will have made the change to reusable bags, including all stores in Dunedin, Invercargill, Nelson and Blenheim.
Already 4.2 million single-use plastic bags have been removed from circulation as a result of these first ten stores.
Hannifin says the supermarket is proud to be making real progress towards removing single-use plastic carrier bags from all of its checkouts and online shopping service by the end of the year.
“With nearly a third of our stores on board, some entire towns, cities and regions will be single-use plastic carrier bag free when you shop at Countdown,” says Hannifin.