News | 10 August 2018

Mayor welcomes plastic bag ban

The Government’s decision to phase out single-use plastic shopping bags is being hailed by Wellington Mayor Justin Lester and local government leaders.

The Prime Minister and the Minister for the Environment have announced the intention to end use of the bags over the next year.

The Wellington Mayor says the move will have significant benefits for councils around the country, who have responsibility for waste management and litter.

“Until now, local councils have borne the cost – both financial and environmental – of single-use plastic bags entering the waste stream. Moving to a ban will significantly reduce that burden.

“We were seeing atrocious results that New Zealanders were becoming increasingly concerned with, from entire hillsides covered in single-use plastic bags dating as far back as the 1970s to researchers finding that around a third of dead turtles in New Zealand had likely ingested supermarket bags.”

Last year, Wellington City Council was a driving force behind a nationwide campaign that saw 90 percent of the country’s mayors come on board a campaign asking the then National-led government to impose a point-of-sale levy on single-use plastic bags.

“Getting rid of the bags is an even better result than we could have hoped for a year later and I’m delighted the new government has listened to what New Zealanders want,” the Mayor says.

“Without government intervention it would have taken far too long for us to say goodbye to bags. A change in policy gives us certainty for the future. ”

This year 65,000 Kiwis signed a petition calling for an outright ban.

Local Government New Zealand President and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull says the overwhelming support from mayors around the country for change on single-use plastic bags reflects the public appetite for getting rid of plastic bags.

“New Zealanders chew through about 1.6 billion single-use bags every year. That is a massive mountain of plastic, which proves a costly headache for councils to deal with.

“Rogue bags are also contributing to the increased amount of plastic in the environment, and we are slowly discovering how much of a problem that is.

“Councils around the country are leading the battle against waste plastic polluting the environment. If the bags are turned off at the tap that’s one less fire we have to fight.”