In hopes of reducing plastic pollution, New Zealand joins a short list of countries in banning the use of plastic bags. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the government’s plan last Monday, giving retailers six months to stop handing out single-use plastic shopping bags. In a year, New Zealanders hope to phase out plastic bags completely.
New Zealand is a large country surrounded by water, so their contribution to the cause is significant. “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 Ardern in a press release. “Every year in New Zealand we use hundreds of millions of single-use plastic bags — a mountain of bags, many of which end up polluting our precious coastal and marine environments and cause serious harm to all kinds of marine life, and all of this when there are viable alternatives for consumers and business.”
Rumours of the plastic bag ban have been circulating for a long time, with thousands of New Zealanders marching the streets and signing petitions to enable it.
Our Government is determined to face up to New Zealand’s environmental challenges. That’s why we’re phasing out single-use plastic shopping bags over the next year. This is a change we can make together. To have your say visit https://t.co/2VDNemFOeM ??? pic.twitter.com/kTayTOPBSH
— New Zealand Labour (@nzlabour) August 9, 2018
The government plans on working with retailers and the community in order to get rid plastic bags and in finding the appropriate replacements. The Prime Minister said that even though it’s great that a large amount of people are onboard with the change, it’s important for everyone to start changing their shopping habits as soon as possible in order to adapt smoothly to the coming changes.
Other countries that have banned plastic bags include China, Kenya, and Australia, which made the news earlier this year due to “bag rage,” the phenomenon where some costumers abused workers from markets and stores because they didn’t want to bring their own bags from home. You can’t win them all.