Make sure you pack a reusable bag when leaving home to avoid being caught bagless as the ban on single-use plastic bags comes into effect on 1 July 2019.
The government announced the complete ban on plastic bags in 2018 and have given businesses time to prepare for the change. It’s a move fully supported by Auckland Council and one that many Kiwis have embraced.
Last year, 92 per cent of the more than 9,300 people and organisations who had their say in the Ministry for the Environment’s consultationsupported a mandatory nationwide phase-out.
“It’s an issue we know Aucklanders are concerned about. We love our harbours and beaches and the bag ban is a practical, simple step that protects our environment from a major source of litter and stops hundreds of millions of plastic bags going into landfill each year,” says Councillor Penny Hulse, Chair of the Community and Environment Committee.
“With hundreds of millions of plastic bags being used only once by Kiwis each year, the desire to reduce our plastic waste, and the call for action from the public to protect our environment, is loud and clear.”
Plastic bags are used for only 12 minutes on average, buy they stay around for hundreds of years polluting the environment, clogging our drain pipes, posing a huge threat to our marine life, and working their way into our food chain.
It is predicted that by 2050, there will be as much plastic as there are fish in the oceans.
“Removing plastic bags from our environment is great news. But, we won’t reach zero waste to landfill by banning plastic bags alone."
"We also need to look for ways to remove single-use items from our lives and focus on how to find reusable alternatives,” says Councillor Hulse.
The regulations will apply to all new plastic shopping bags with handles that are made of plastic, up to 70 microns in thickness.
This includes the light-weight plastic bags commonly found at supermarkets, takeaway food and other retail checkouts, as well as heavier boutique-style shopping bags and the ‘emergency’ bags currently offered by some supermarkets as an alternative to a free single-use bag.
It will also include bags fitting this description that are made of degradable plastic (i.e. biodegradable, compostable, and oxy-degradable) regardless of whether the plastic material is sourced from fossil-fuel, synthetic compounds or from biological sources, such as plants.
While most supermarkets have already stopped using them, from 1 July, the ban becomes official.
The new rules have been brought in under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008, which allows for the Minister for the Environment to outlaw the sale of any product that could seriously harm the environment when disposed of. Businesses who break the new rule could face fines of up to $100,000.
Being plastic-bag-free doesn’t need to be a costly exercise. For affordable ways to go completely plastic bag-free, such as making your own reusable bag out of an old t-shirt or material you have around your home, check here.
For tips on how to be completely plastic bag-free, check here:
If you own a business that currently uses single-use plastic bags, here’s a useful guide.
Removing single-use plastic bags and living plastic-free will reduce Auckland’s pollution, and help take action on climate change by reducing our carbon footprint. Global research calculates that across their lifecycle, plastics account for 3.8 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
New Zealand is part of the global movement to reduce carbon emissions, via the Paris agreement, to help keep global temperature rise below 1.5° Celsius.
Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Action Framework is how we will help New Zealand play its part by setting targets and actions to rapidly reduce carbon emissions in Auckland and increase our resilience to climate change.
Auckland Council recently approved public consultation of Auckland’s Climate Action Framework - keep an eye out for public consultation opening soon, to have your say on creating a climate-ready future for Auckland.