Help reduce plastic bag use by 80% in NZ

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The following examples highlight the dire need to make a change in plastic bag usage in New Zealand, by charging 9 cents per plastic bag. In doing this, we have the potential to reduce plastic bag use by 80%.


NZ uses over 1 billion single-use plastic bags per year. Most NZ supermarkets use Polyethylene, a petroleum product derived from oil – a nonrenewable resource.

650 million bags weighs in at 4,400 tons of plastic, which is equivalent to saving 2,800 tons of CO2.


Not only an issue of pollution, but also an issue of money. Statistics New Zealand says that in 2014, we spent $10.5 million on imported, lightweight plastic bags.


Plastic bags suffocate and strangle animals.

They look like Jellyfish - which are food to so many of our marine life. One of our own sea turtles was found with 58 pieces of plastic inside of it (mostly from plastic bags). One third of our turtles die from plastic, as well as one third of our seabirds...that's crazy.

Once plastic bags are in a landfill (if they even make it that far**), they do not rot, decompose or biodegrade.

**If you have never heard of the South Pacific Garbage Patch, now is a good time to do a quick google... click 'images'. It is bigger than Greenland. Need I say more...


The Warehouse: Since the introduction of its Bags for Good programme in 2009 (a 10 cent charge for a lightweight plastic bag is donated to local charity), there has been a 73 per cent drop in plastic bags leaving its stores. This represents a drop from 43 million in 2008 to about 12 million in 2014.

Foodstuffs (Pak'nSave, New World and Four Square): Foodstuffs stores now use a reduced micron-HDPE checkout bag, which takes significantly less oil to manufacture than the bags used three years ago. Pak'nSave charges 10 cents a bag (TICK!!!).

Countdown: PACK 7 is an initiative that encourages checkout staff to pack seven items in each plastic bag. Since 2006, it has reduced waste to landfill by 42 per cent. The small checkout bags used include 25 per cent recycled content.


At a Societal Level: One year ago, Scotland started charging five pence (9 cents) for plastic grocery bags. In the following year, 650 million fewer bags have been used - an 80% reduction. It has become second nature to take carry bags where ever you go. If we can charge 9 cents per plastic bag in NZ, then not only will we somewhat reduce our plastic use, but we will also think twice about the consequences.

At a Personal Level: Take a carry bag. Do not use those tiny plastic bags in the fruit and vege aisle just to carry around two onions. Try not to use plastic bags at all, really!


In the next five years we will be putting more plastic in the ocean than all of the twentieth century.


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