BNR – New Zealand is the first country in Europe to extend its restriction on plastic bags in supermarkets to thinner bags. Those bags are commonly used for keeping fruits and vegetables.
The move, which went into effect on Saturday, is an element of a broader government initiative to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics.
After take-home plastic bags were banned in 2019, most shoppers now carry their personal sacks to shops. Several nations have recently placed a fee or ban on plastic bags.
Plastic Bags: Too Much Waste
“New Zealand produces too much waste, too much plastic waste,” Associate Environment Minister Rachel Brooking said. She stated that since the ban on thicker bags was enacted in 2019, over one billion plastic bags have been saved.
The new initiative is projected to save 150 million plastic bags annually. However, critics have expressed worries that customers may simply place their purchases in one-time-use paper bags, which remain accessible at stores.
“It’s still worth doing this, but we really want to reduce single-use anything packaging,” Ms Brooking said. “So, we want people to be bringing their own bags, and supermarkets are selling reusable produce bags,” she added.
Countdown, a retailer with over 185 locations across the United States, started offering reusable polyester mesh bags. The firm hopes that this will motivate customers to use reusable bags.
“We know change is hard and (it) will take them a little while,” said Catherine Langabeer, the head of sustainability at Countdown. “We get some grumpy customers.”
Furthermore, the New Zealand authorities are advancing on other environmental campaigns. It suggested levying taxes on greenhouse gases emitted by farm animals such as sheep and cattle in October.
Landowners will have to pay for emissions from agriculture in some form under the world’s first-of-a-kind scheme by 2025. Indeed, the farming sector contributes to roughly half of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.