Taking action to phase out single-use plastic shopping bags would have been an easy way for the National Government to show it is serious about the environment, but has chosen to do nothing instead, the Green Party said today.
Government officials advised against a petition to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee asking for the Government to look at ways it can phase out plastic shopping bag use in order to protect the marine environment.
“The Government has squandered a golden opportunity to clean up our oceans, rivers and beaches by getting rid of single-use plastic bags forever,” said Green Party waste spokesperson Denise Roche.
“National seems happy for the status quo to continue, which means more plastic bags polluting our waterways and landfills, and more birds and fish dying needlessly because of them.
"1.6 billion plastic bags are used in New Zealand every year, and many of them end up in our oceans.
“Instead of taking real action to remedy this, the Ministry for the Environment is relying on ‘be a tidy kiwi’ campaigns and individuals doing the right thing, which will only go so far.
“Just last year, the UK put a 5p levy on plastic bags, which has led to an 85 percent reduction in their use and raised £29 million that has gone to charities.
“The National Government is good at making grand announcements on the environment but not backing them up with strong policy or funding, just like it did with its Predator-Free New Zealand scheme.
“By phasing out single-use plastic bags, the Government could have shown it is serious about protecting and enhancing our environment, but they have missed that opportunity.
“The Green Party in government will phase out plastic bags with a levy on single use plastic bags,” said Ms Roche.