Where everyone bags a bargain…

News today that the Warehouse is moving to introduce a 10c fee for plastic bags is worthy of a shout out. The Environment Minister and the Mayor of Waitakere also welcomed it.

The Minister’s statement is interesting for his comment that:

“This approach is also consistent with the Government’s Bluegreen agenda of encouraging more environmentally friendly behaviour with financial incentive rather than through regulation or prohibition.

The Green Party also supports price signals, which is why we’ve pushed for a price on carbon for over a decade (but are still waiting). However, often regulation is also needed, for example to ensure that some firms do not free-ride on others’ good practices.

We were pleased to get National’s support for the Waste Minimisation Act last year. One major plank of this Act is product stewardship, where industry and government work together to take responsibility for a product when it becomes waste. The Act requires ‘priority products’ to be identified as the first ones that the Minister requires action on – and the Greens think plastic shopping bags are an obvious one. A product steward scheme can include pricing, but can be much broader and smarter than that.

As Green Party’s Waitakere spokesperson Kath Dewar said last week in a statement from the Waitakere City Council about their plan to eliminate plastic shopping bags in the city: “New Zealand consumes 1 billion plastic shopping bags every year, including an estimated 43.8 million in Waitakere City and that over 40,000 plastic check-out bags are dumped in New Zealand landfills every hour.” Despite positive steps by some major retailers, we still have a long way to go.

The Government is expected to release a discussion paper for public consultation tomorrow outlining its new waste targets, the products it sees as priorities, and funding criteria for the fund created by the waste levy that kicks in on 1 July this year. Watch this space!

7 Comments Posted

  1. It seems a reasonably good idea to reduce the number of plasic bags being used, but is it really such a major issue?
    The number of bags used per year is very large, but do we know what proportion of weight and volume that represents of total stuff deposited in landfill each year? I would suspect it’s pretty small.
    The vast majority of the rubbish deposited in landfills each year is commercial waste, so isn’t that where the most effort should be applied at reduction?

  2. # wat dabney Says:
    March 18th, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    “Does it mean dumped here, or are they being used as bin liners?”

    you must get through way more bin liners than I do, if all your plastic shopping bags get re-used as bin-liners

  3. Pak n Save have been charging 10c per plastic bag for years.
    The Red Shed might also consider the other stuff they put around all their items – Plastic PACKAGING which is just rubbish and intended for the tip – what are they doing about that? We mostly strip the packaging off in the shop and tell them to keep it! Why sell us the problem of disposal? As well as adding to the landfills, its all the extra energy and the unproductive use of fossil fuels this plastic uses as well. There is no need for it.

  4. As a shopper at Pack n Save, I am well versed in the ‘do I buy bags, or do I just dump the whole lot in the boot and unpack when i am home’. For me, it depends on if I drove or walked to the supermarket. Gotta say though, that those bags get reused as bin liners. I applaud the warehouse on this new measure.

  5. “40,000 plastic check-out bags are dumped in New Zealand landfills every hour”

    Does it mean dumped here, or are they being used as bin liners?

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