The bags are not currently recyclable in New Zealand, but Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says a new drop-off recycling service will be introduced at stores, and new recycling infrastructure will enable soft plastics to be re-used.
Local Government New Zealand has released a statement requesting the Government to impose a levy on plastic bags at point of sale counters. The Green Party agrees, but wants further action.
Its waste spokesperson Denise Roche says the new system will not lead to shoppers using fewer bags.
“We still need a levy on plastic bags and to move towards an outright ban on their use – like in Australia where most states either have a ban or a levy on flimsy single-use plastic bags – because of the harm they do to animals and the environment.”
Seymour told RadioLIVE yesterday that banning plastic bags could kill up to 20 people per year through “a lack of food hygiene”.
“Imagine somebody with their reusable bag sitting in the hot boot of their car with a bit of blood that’s seeped out of some steak or chicken – you end up with infections and potentially people dying.”
He felt it was unreasonable to expect shoppers to clean their reusable bags. Seymour called for stronger penalties on those caught littering single-use plastic bags.