New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern announces plans to ban plastic bags nationwide

‘We need to be far smarter in the way we manage waste and this is a good start’

Sabrina Barr
Friday 10 August 2018 18:42 BST
New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern to ban plastic bags: 'I underestimated the impact of plastics on our environment'

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has announced plans to gradually phase out single-use plastic bags across the country in the next year.

The leader gave a statement today alongside associate environment minister Eugenie Sage, in which they explained the importance of tackling plastic pollution.

“We’re phasing out single-use plastic bags so we can better look after our environment and safeguard New Zealand’s clean, green reputation,” Ms Ardern writes.

“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.”

An online petition launched two years ago promoting the ban of plastic bags in New Zealand currently has more than 60,000 signatures.

According to Ms Ardern, the majority of the letters that she receives from schoolchildren address the topic of plastic pollution.

While many people have started to become more conscious about their daily use of plastic, the prime minister believes that this ban will have a very beneficial impact on the shopping habits of New Zealanders.

“It’s great that many people are already changing the way they shop,” she says.

“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.”

Ms Sage echoed these statements, explaining that the dedication of the New Zealand public to lead more sustainable lives helped to propel the motion of a single-use plastic bag ban forward.

“Public calls for action have encouraged a significant number of retailers, including supermarkets, to move on single-use plastic bags,” she writes.

“We want to support their efforts by ensuring the retail industry moves together in a fair and effective way.

“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.”

Wave of floating plastic in Dominican Republic shows extent of ocean pollution

The statement explains that the ban will be enforced over the course of the next six months.

New Zealanders can continue to express their views on the single-use plastic bag ban until Friday 14 September by visiting the website for the Ministry for the Environment.

“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,” says Ms Sage.

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