Support in Dunedin for plastic bag ban

Dunedin people appear to support a government move to ban single-use plastic bags, but also say there is more to be done.

The Government has pledged to rid the country of single-use plastic bags within a year.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage made the commitment yesterday.

Ms Ardern said she listened to the demands of 65,000 New Zealanders  who signed a petition calling for an outright ban.

"Every year in New Zealand we use hundreds of millions of single-use plastic bags — a mountain of bags."

New Zealand is one of the highest producers of urban waste per capita in the developed world,  according to OECD data.

Ms Ardern said plastic bags polluted the country’s coastal and marine environments and caused serious harm to 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."

The Government has called for feedback on the best ways for the ban to be phased in, with consultation open until September 14.

Ms Sage said she wanted feedback on options for the date by which the phase-out would be complete, what bags should be included, retailers that should be exempt, and how best to help people with the transition.

Dunedin sustainable education and business consultant Niki Bould said the news was "fantastic to hear".

The plastic bag issue needed a "ground up" approach, with community projects making positive change, such as groups that made reusable bags, she said.

But there was also a need for the Government to step in and say "this is what we’re going to do".

"You’ve got the carrot and  the stick, and I think that’s what we need.

"It’s never going to work if we’ve only got the carrot."

Dunedin City Council waste minimisation officer Cath Gledhill said the move was good for the council’s recycling efforts, as plastic bags were one of the waste products that could not be recycled but  ended up in recycling bins.

"I think it’s an exciting move.

"I’ll be interested to see what the consultation turns up."

Ms Gledhill said plastic waste was a broader issue than just bags, as there was still plenty of soft plastic material used in packaging.

"There’s still a way to go."

Reaction to the story on the Otago Daily Times website was mostly positive yesterday.

— Additional reporting RNZ

Comments

I always re-use my 'single' use shopping bags as rubbish bags at home- so will I still get them? no. So now I will buy my rubbish bags which are made from plastic- no plastic savings there.

Why not come up with the European style biodegradable plastic shopping bags? I was using them 10 years ago and they completely composted down.

Seems like another PC distraction. So would the Prime Minister listen to 65,000 shoppers who want to keep their 'single' use bags- if such a petition was delivered? I pretty much doubt the over-riding support line for such a ban- otherwise we would have reduced our 'plastic' usage already. another step towards a nanny state..

OtagoIdeas you can already buy bin liners made from corn starch. They work just as well as biodegrade very quickly.

Why don't supermarkets keep supplying supermarket bags but swap them for corn starch ones? A. no money in it + they are not strong enough, it is not just supermarkets, it is the bakery, the small shops that are now charging 10-20cents here in Queensland, for 'reusable bags' buy the reusable bags like we have, leave them in your car and be like me use a trolley for all trips to the supermarket no matter how big or small your purchase is, take the trolley to your car pack the bags and be like me I now leave the trolley in the car park and can't be bothered putting it in the trolley return, (unless it is Aldi where it costs $1 to use them) the flip side of that is more trolleys will get used and it might employ a couple more people collecting trolleys. We now have to buy rubbish bags because the "one use supermarket bags were our rubbish bags on a hook'. The other side of all this it will make people like Cull re think the Dunedin Rubbish collection system and its faults, fingers crossed it will be 3 wheelie bins as part of the rates. it is all the other plastic things packaging, and it comes back to education and teaching children not to litter.