More than 9,300 New Zealanders and organisations have had their say on the Government’s proposed mandatory phase out of single-use plastic shopping bags in New Zealand.
“We received submissions from all over the country, representing a wide range of perspectives. These have all been carefully considered in the policy advice we’ve put forward to Ministers,” says James Walker, Ministry for the Environment’s Deputy Secretary Partnerships and Customers.
The 9,354 submissions received included 6,129 standard submissions and 3,225 responses to the short online survey which asked people whether they agreed with the proposed mandatory phase out and went on to cover issues around waste reduction in everyday life.
Overall 92 per cent of submitters (including short survey respondents) supported the proposed mandatory phase out of single-use plastic shopping bags in New Zealand.
Other key themes from the standard submissions included*:
- 95 per cent of submitters said that small retailers should not be exempted from the proposed mandatory phase out.
- 78 per cent wanted all single-use plastic bags to be included in the phase out, regardless of thickness. For those who specified a thickness, the preference was for the phase out to apply to bags below 70 microns, which would include the heavier ‘boutique’ style plastic bags.
- The majority of submitters supported the inclusion of ‘degradable’ plastic bags in the mandatory phase out – which includes biodegradable, compostable and oxo-degradable plastic bags.
- 70 per cent preferred an implementation period of less than six months. However some submitters (including importers, retailers, and local government) proposed a period of at least 12 months to enable existing plastic bag stock and import orders to be fully used.
“Among the other views put forward were that single-use plastic shopping bags are only a small contribution to overall pollution, that ‘single-use’ isn’t a correct term as bags can be used again, concerns about the potential for loss of sales by local manufacturers and importers of bags, and higher packaging costs for businesses which could be passed on to consumers,” says Mr Walker.
“We also heard from many submitters that they support the proposal as a first step towards wider action on plastic packaging. Many pointed to benefits including reduced impact on marine environments, reduced litter, and more efficient use of resources,” he says.
Cabinet is considering submissions and advice from the Ministry for the Environment, and policy decisions may be announced before Christmas.
* Percentages are based on the number of submitters that answered the corresponding consultation question. It should be noted that the short online survey only asked one consultation question - whether respondents agreed with the proposed mandatory phase out of single-use plastic shopping bags in New Zealand.