The government has formally announced its decision to phase out single-use plastic shopping bags over the next year. The announcement was made by the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and Associate Environment Minister, Eugenie Sage.
The decision follows a petition calling for an outright ban on all plastic bags, signed by 65,000 New Zealanders. An earlier petition launched in 2014 attracted only around one quarter of the total number of signatures.
Prime minister Jacinda Ardern stated that many of the letters of concern she had received regarding the use of plastics came from children.
Single-use plastic bags have become controversial because, while their existence as practical objects is very short, especially when compared to the decades that it takes for a single-use plastic bag to break down. Most estimates say that it will take up to 100 years for a single-use plastic bag to biodegrade. And during those hundred years, that plastic bag will pollute and endangers waterways and marine areas, as well as clog up landfills and bush areas..
New Zealand supermarkets are already starting the process of removing plastic bags and checkouts, with the plan to have no plastic bags by the end of 2018.