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Single-use plastic shopping bags are banned in New Zealand

Single-use plastic shopping bags are banned in New Zealand from 1 July 2019. Businesses cannot provide you with single-use plastic shopping bags. The ban will help reduce the amount of plastic in our environment. 

Plastic bags which are banned

The ban applies to all new single-use plastic shopping bags with handles that are made of plastic up to 70 microns in thickness.

This includes:

  • light-weight plastic bags commonly found at supermarket, takeaway food and other retail checkouts 
  • heavier boutique-style plastic shopping bags commonly found at department or clothing stores 
  • ‘emergency’ bags offered by some supermarkets as an alternative to a free single-use plastic bag.

Examples of banned bags

photo of plastic bag under 70 microns in thickness that is bannedphoto of plastic bag under 70 microns in thickness that is bannedphoto of plastic bag under 70 microns in thickness that is banned

It includes bags made of degradable plastic. This is regardless of whether the plastic material is made from fossil-fuel or biological sources such as plants.

This includes biodegradable, compostable and oxy-degradable plastics bags. These are sometimes marketed as 'not plastic' and may have these icons:  

banned plastic bags may have these icons

Plastic bags which are not banned

The following bags are not included in the ban. (Unless they have handles for the dual use of carrying sold goods.)

  • Bin liners 
  • Bags for collecting pet waste
  • Barrier bags used when purchasing meat, and fruit and vegetables.  

Also plastic packaging is not included in the ban.

Examples of bags that are not banned

photo of new world bag that is not bannedphoto of countdown bag that is not bannedphoto of reusable bag that is not bannedPhoto of paper bag with handles that is not bannedpaper bag without handles that is not bannedPhoto of a reusable nylon bag that is not banned

Help businesses to stop providing single-use plastic shopping bags

If a business gives you a single-use plastic shopping bag we suggest you refuse the bag and explain that they are now banned. If the business continues to provide single-use plastic shopping bags you can report this to the Ministry for the Environment.

Fill out this form to report a business's alleged breach of the ban

What you can use to carry your goods in

Alternatives to single-use plastic shopping bags include:

  • long-life reusable bags in heavier-duty plastics (eg, polypropylene or polyethylene terephthalate (PET)). 
  • long-life bags made of lightweight synthetic fabrics (ie, nylon, polypropylene or polyester)
  • cotton, canvas, jute and hessian bags and those made out of recycled fabric. 

You can bring your own bags, including home-made bags (eg, flax kete), and/or backpack or wheeled trolley bag.

If you don't have a bag most major retailers sell reusable bags at a small cost or have boxes you can re-use. 
 

Reviewed:
01/07/19