Wellington, December 19, 2018
Regulations for mandatory phase out of single-use plastic shopping bags will be in force from July, 1, 2019.
Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage said that retailers will not be able to sell or give away single-use plastic shopping bags that date.
The State Cabinet has agreed to the proposed regulations for a mandatory nationwide phase out of these bags.
Hazard to Nature
“Plastic shopping bags are a hazard for nature, particularly marine wildlife. They can also introduce harmful microplastics into the food chain,” Ms Sage said.
“These regulations are an important first step to tackle New Zealand’s wider waste problem. Importantly, the mandatory phase out of single-use plastic shopping bags signals that we need to do things very differently. Manufacturers, retailers and consumers have a responsibility to reduce waste and prevent plastic pollution,” she said.
Strong public support
Public consultation held from August 10, 2018 to September 14, 2018, showed strong support for the proposed regulations, with 92% of submitters agreeing that we should no longer have single-use plastic shopping bags in New Zealand.
The phase out will apply to all new plastic shopping bags with handles that are made of plastic up to 70 microns in thickness. This includes light-weight supermarket bags, 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 made of degradable plastic (ie. 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.
Significant waste reduce
The phase out marks the start of a significant Government programme to reduce waste and build the foundations for New Zealand’s transition to a ‘circular economy’ approach, where eventually waste will be designed out of the system.
“We have an ambitious programme underway to turn around New Zealand’s poor track record on waste. This includes expanding the waste disposal levy to all landfills and improving our data on waste and resource recovery, investing more strategically in infrastructure and innovation, and a greater focus on product stewardship for problematic waste streams such as vehicle tyres and e-waste,” Ms Sage said.
Signatory to global commitment
New Zealand has recently become a signatory to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment – a global pledge to address the root causes of plastic pollution – and this work programme will help us deliver on our commitment.
Information about the mandatory phase out of single-use plastic shopping bags in New Zealand can be found on the Ministry for the Environment’s website at www.mfe.govt.nz/plasticbags