The Ministry for Environment (MfE) has reported today that of 9,300 submissions received, 92 per cent support the Government's proposed mandatory phase out of single-use plastic shopping bags. MfE has further noted that many submitters "support the proposal as a first step towards wider action on plastic packaging.”
Greenpeace Campaign Advisor Steve Abel says the overwhelming support for the ban once again demonstrates that New Zealanders want action on plastic pollution.
"The ban on single-use plastic bags is a step in the right direction, but New Zealand is still playing catch up on meeting the overall challenge of plastic pollution. We need a comprehensive national strategy to tackle a wide range of single-use plastics," he says.
Greenpeace is calling for a comprehensive national strategy to eliminate all sources of plastic pollution that includes four main strategies: extending the bag ban to other avoidable plastics such as cutlery, straws and stirrers; starting a deposit system for plastic bottles so people can bring empties back for cash; imposing a levy on problematic items such as coffee cups, food packaging and cigarette butts; setting ambitious plastic reduction targets to monitor progress.
Over 16,000 people have signed on to Greenpeace’s call for a national strategy on plastics.
"Up to 12.7 million metric tonnes of plastic waste enter the ocean every year - that’s the equivalent of one garbage truck every minute and single use plastic bags are just the tip of the iceberg. We need to do more than ban plastic bags," said Abel.
Around the world, governments are implementing comprehensive strategies to end plastic pollution with measures from levies, bottle deposits to banning a wide range of single use plastics. The European Commission has a strategy to tackle the 10 top polluting single use plastics. But right now New Zealand has no such plan.
In December, Greenpeace will be hosting a visit by two Malaysian activists (Lay Peng Pua and Heng Kiah Chun) who are campaigning against illegal dumping and incineration of imported plastic waste. New Zealand currently exports around 41,000 tonnes of plastic waste primarily to Southeast Asian countries. Around 6,000 tonnes of plastic waste are going to Malaysia.