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Mayor supports plastic bag levy

Gisborne District Council Mayor Meng Foon is supporting 13 Mayors across the country to lobby central government to implement a national levy on single-use plastic bags.

Wellington City Council Mayor Justin Lester wrote to Mayor Foon in May asking for his support in calling for government to implement a national levy at the point of sale, or empower local councils with authority to determine their own local policy.

“We need to reduce this plastic that doesn’t break down. We need to do better and we can with government support through legislation,” said Mayor Foon.

Mayor Justin Lester says imposing a compulsory levy at the point of sale will act as a deterrent, reducing the total number of single use plastic bags produced,”

“This has been proven to work overseas. When the UK brought in just a 5p levy in 2015, they've seen an 86 per cent decrease in the number of plastic bags going to landfills,” he said.

Local Government New Zealand president Lawrence Yule said a levy had strong support from the sector, with a poll from 2015 showing 89 per cent of councils were in support.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull have already publicly pledged their support.

Research into plastic bags, presented at the WasteMINZ conference in 2016 found that 65% of people are in favour of bag charges if the money is donated to charity.

This is the model the Warehouse operates on where all their bag charges are donated to local charities.

Gisborne District Council has supported the efforts of Plastic Bag Free Tairawhiti’s Flag the Bag initiatives.

“I think the initiative and vision of the Flag the Bag team is awesome.”

“Voluntary schemes can only go so far. I would like to go further and have glass bottle deposits like we use to.”

Activities are planned for promoting Plastic Free July encouraging people to go without single use plastics for the entire month, a bag-a-thon bag making workshop run by Kapai Kaiti on 14 July, and free public movie screening of A Plastic Ocean at the Odeon Theatre on 26 July.


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