Plastic bags keep local councils awake at night

Councils around the country want a levy on single-use plastic bags and are calling on the government to step up and impose one.

They say the country’s landfills are clogged with the non-biodegradable bags, which also blow away into waterways, damaging marine life.

no captionPhoto: 123rf
The government-backed soft plastic recycling scheme, where returned plastic bags are made into other plastic products such as park benches, dealt with 25 million of those those bags last year – less than 2 per cent of the total used.

New Zealanders use more than 1.6 billion plastic bags every year.

That’s 1000 per household, or 3 per day.

A survey by Wasteminz, which represents the waste, resource recovery and contaminated land sectors, found two thirds of respondents would support a levy on plastic bags if the money went to charity.

Dunedin mayor and Local Government NZ vice president Dave Cull said plastic bags were a real problem for councils.

Mayor Dave Cull is a lightning rod for disaffection.Dave Cull Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer
“It’s a sufficient problem for the local councils at the conference last year to pretty much unanimously endore a remit asking the government to have a levy or allow councils to levy.

“There are environmental costs, there are cleanup costs, there are – just the look of the place, apart from anything else.”

Wellington City Council spent $20,000 last year just on fencing to keep plastic bags within its landfill, he said.

“If people had to pay for them [single-use plastic bags] they might use them more than once, or it might encourage them not to use them at all – it takes them out of the system, it reduces the number that are being used and it therefore reduces the number that are flapping about the place causing a problem.”

They aren’t particularly expensive in the first place.  Even if the price doubled I doubt it would affect its use.   They aren’t talking about shopping bags here.  They’re talking about bread bags, lunch bags and freezer bags for example.

And for those there aren’t any immediately handy replacements available.

Would you use fewer plastic bags if it had like a 10 or 20% levy on them?



Do you want:

  • Ad-free access?
  • Access to our very popular daily crossword?
  • Access to daily sudoku?
  • Access to Incite Politics magazine articles?
  • Access to podcasts?
  • Access to political polls?

Our subscribers’ financial support is the reason why we have been able to offer our latest service; Audio blogs. 

Click Here  to support us and watch the number of services grow.