Written by: Kimberly White

In December, Associate Minister for the Environment, Eugenie Sage, confirmed the plastic bag phase out for retailers.

From July 1, 2019, retailers will be prohibited from selling or giving away single-use plastic shopping bags. As of 2018, the nation uses approximately 1.6 billion single-use plastic bags each year.

We’re phasing-out single-use plastic bags so we can better look after our environment and safeguard New Zealand’s clean, green reputation,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The ban has received an overwhelmingly positive response from New Zealanders. According to the New Zealand Ministry for the Environment, out of the 9,300 people and organizations who participated in their public consultation, 92% supported a nationwide plastic bag phase out.

Last year, New Zealand was ranked tenth on the World Bank’s list of most wasteful nations in the world. On average, each New Zealander produces 3.6kg of waste each day.

“These regulations are an important first step to tackle New Zealand’s wider waste problem. Importantly, the mandatory phase out of single-use plastic shopping bags signals that we need to do things very differently – manufacturers, retailers and consumers all have a responsibility to reduce waste and prevent plastic pollution,” stated Eugenie Sage.

The regulations will apply to the following:

  • All new plastic shopping bags up to 70 microns in thickness
  • Lightweight supermarket bags
  • Boutique-style bags
  • ‘Emergency’ bags offered by supermarkets
  • Bags made of degradable plastic (fossil-fuel, synthetics, or plant-based)

This is the beginning of New Zealand’s new program aimed to reduce waste and shift to a circular economy approach.

“We have an ambitious programme underway to turn around New Zealand’s poor track record on waste,” said Eugenie Sage.

For more information regarding New Zealand’s plastic bag phase out, please visit the Ministry of Environment’s section on single-use plastic shopping bags.