The New Zealand Government has confirmed the mandatory phase out of single use plastic bags, retailers will now have six-months to organize more environmentally friendly options in lieu of plastic bags.
August this year saw the first announcement of the plastic bag ban, with the government now giving retailers until the middle of 2019 to comply with the new rules. The confirmation follows a five week public consultation where 92 percent of submitters supported the phase out.
Associate minister for the environment, Eugenie Sage, says the changes were calculated before being implements but are ultimate what is needed to help the environment.
“Single-use plastic bags often end up polluting our precious coastal and marine environments and cause serious harm to marine mammals, sea-birds and other marine life… Many retailers and individuals have already stopped using single-use plastic bags and recent research shows 50 percent of New Zealanders now say they always bring reusable bags when shopping.”
Sage says a shorter time frame was requested, but for the sake of retailers and manufacturers who will be affected by the change, a longer time period was approved.
The exact date for the ban to come into effect will be known once regulations are considered by Cabinet in December.
The move has also been backed by the Retail NZ association, with Retail NZ's GM public affairs Greg Harford saying, “Retailers large and small have been working hard over time to reduce or eliminate the number of plastic carrier bags being issued, and the formalisation of the phase out will ensure that there is a level playing field right across the retail sector.”