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Picking up on the plastic bag problem

  • News
  • June 15, 2015
  • Alannah Pfaff
Picking up on the plastic bag problem

The Green Party’s latest campaign goal, led by Roche, is to connect different individuals working on the issue of single-use plastic bags and guide them to take action together. The goal is to pressure the Minister for the Environment, Nick Smith, to declare single-use plastic bags a priority product under the waste minimisation act.

“Globally, our stance is really bad, and our waste management habits and our consumer habits undermine our perception of being a clean, green country,”  Roche says.

“We use one billion single-use plastic bags every year in New Zealand, and the average time they are used for is 12 minutes.

“The pollution is not a deliberate act by consumers, it's simply because they are lightweight, single use and they are disposable.

“This means they end up in our environment, disintegrating into microplastics and entering the food chain," she says.

Ms Roche says that while major retailers are not going to change voluntarily, they would welcome regulation.

However Greg Harford of Retail NZ says that experience, especially in the grocery business, has tended to show that there would be a significant consumer backlash to introducing general charges for plastic bags.

“Retailers provide plastic bags in order to meet customer demand.  There is ongoing customer demand for bags to carry shopping home, but retailers are actively trying to minimise the number of plastic bags distributed each year,” he says.

Experience at The Warehouse doesn’t necessarily reinforce Harford’s concerns. The retailer charges customers for plastic bags, and has seen around a 70 percent reduction of plastic bag waste.

Harford says a programme aiming to remove soft plastic bags from the waste stream is being developed by the Packaging Forum. The scheme will involve encouraging customers to return their “soft plastics” (anything you can scrunch up easily) to retail outlets, which will recycle them. This will occur initially in Auckland, with a national rollout if successful.

A recent podcast by US-based National Public Radio’s Planet Money series explores the difficulties of recycling plastic bags.

The show discusses how recycling plastic bags only happens when the companies involved can make a profit. Plastic is sold from America to Asia to be made into anything from tooth brushes to carpet and coffee makers.

However, when oil prices drop, new plastic is cheaper and there is no point in recycling plastic bags.

This is particuarly true of dirty plastic bags, which take a lot of washing and processing before the plastic is usable, and often block up the machinery.

A lobby group in Palmerston North called Carrying Our Future is working towards a plastic bag free future for Palmerston North, they hope to lead the way as the first New Zealand town to get rid of plastic shopping bags.

The group are looking for public support for a voluntary system to eliminate the use of plastic bags.

They are also supporting a report on a remit proposed by the Palmerston North City Council, which could go before Parliament. It urges government to impose a levy on plastic shopping bags at point of sale. The remit will be voted on at a local government conference in Rotorua this September.

The remit has already been passed by Horizons Regional Council, Hauraki District Council, South Wairarapa District Council, Taupo District Council, Napier City Council and Dunedin City Council.

Learn more about the majestic life of the plastic bag:

Auckland entrepreneur Fi diverts more than 40 used plastic bags from landfill to create each ReMaterialise recycled bag. Branded versions are available for small business owners and corporate gifts.

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Gun retail will change after the Christchurch shooting

  • Opinion
  • March 18, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Gun retail will change after the Christchurch shooting

In the wake of an appalling attack, public sentiment around guns sales has changed. NZ Retail and The Register editor and associate publisher Sarah Dunn considers how gun retailers can work with the community in this new environment.

Read more
 
 
Sponsored content

Protect against porch pirates: The Courier Box

Necessity is the mother of innovation, and this is certainly the case for The Courier Box designer and developer Joanna Steel.

 
 

How did that happen: Customisable Products

  • News
  • March 14, 2019
  • Courtney Devereux
How did that happen: Customisable Products

According to the Forbes 2018 trend report consumers are increasingly searching for personalization of products, services, and experiences. From wallets, phone cases, apparel, pet accessories, plates, bedding, and even number plates, if it can be purchased, it can be monogrammed, personalized, and used as a display of our individualism.

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Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

 
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Here we go again

  • Opinion
  • March 14, 2019
  • Satish Ranchhod
Here we go again

After losing some steam over 2018, another year of moderate growth in retail spending is on the cards for 2019.

Read more
 
 

Kathmandu security breach may have captured customer data

  • News
  • March 14, 2019
  • Radio New Zealand
Kathmandu security breach may have captured customer data

Outdoor clothing and equipment retailer Kathmandu is investigating a suspected customer data breach on its trading websites.

Read more
 

Briscoe Group notches another record annual result

  • News
  • March 14, 2019
  • Radio New Zealand
Briscoe Group notches another record annual result

Briscoe Group has reported a record full year profit after a surge of sales going into the Chirstmas shopping season.

Read more
 
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