Hutt at Heart

Let’s sort out plastic bags

Single-use plastic shopping bags are being phased out in New Zealand with regulations coming into force on Monday 1 July 2019.

New Zealanders are overwhelmingly behind the phase out. Recently, 92 per cent of the more than 9,300 people and organisations who had their say in public consultation supported a mandatory nationwide phase out.

The regulations will apply to all plastic shopping bags with handles that are made of plastic up to 70 microns in thickness and to all the light-weight plastic bags commonly found at supermarket, takeaway food and other retail checkouts, as well as heavier boutique-style shopping bags and the ‘emergency’ bags currently offered by some supermarkets as an alternative to a free single-use bag.

It will also include bags fitting this description made of degradable plastic (i.e. biodegradable, compostable and oxy-degradable) regardless of whether the plastic material is sourced from fossil-fuel, synthetic compounds or from biological sources such as plants.

Members of the Petone Beach Clean-up Crew with the rubbish shark.

What is Hutt City Council’s role?

The changes to plastic bag legislation mean that we are one step closer towards doing a better job of protecting our environment and sustainable practices.

Hutt City Council is rolling out a new recycling campaign called Let’s Sort Out Waste. The first phase focused on What’s the number? reflecting changes to recycling where plastics 3 to 7 are no longer collected due to no market demand for these products. The next phase of the Let’s Sort Out Waste campaign will focus on reducing the plastic we use and buy, and reusing or repurposing what plastic we do have to reduce the volume of plastic going to landfill.

What is Hutt City Council doing to reduce the amount of single use plastic bags?

Our focus has been on informing businesses of the changes. We are working with Retail NZ, the Jackson Street Programme, and our council’s Environmental Health Officers, frontline staff, CBD Development Manager and Neighbourhood Precinct Place Maker to ensure accurate information is distributed to local businesses. This includes having relevant signage translated into a range of languages.

The New Rules

The regulations apply to all businesses in New Zealand who sell goods, including:

  • sales directly to consumers and business-to-business transactions
  • online sales
  • small produce markets and retail stores through to large department stores and supermarkets
  • both profit and not-for-profit organisations

Bags that will not be included in the ban are:

  • Bags without handles including light-weight barrier bags (e.g., bags without handles used for containing meat and/or produce)
  • Bin liners/rubbish bags
  • Bags for pet waste or nappies
  • Bags that form an integral part of a product’s packaging (e.g., bread bags and pouches for cooked chicken)
  • Bags that do not contain plastic including bio-sourced plastics (e.g., cotton, jute, hemp, paper and flax)
  • Long-life multi-use bags made from synthetic fabric (e.g., nylon and polyester) between 45 and 70 microns in thickness.

How will the ban be enforced? 

The Ministry for the Environment will encourage compliance with the new legislation and ahead of the 1 July ban, the Ministry is providing businesses with information on how to source alternative carry bag options. Hutt City Council is also letting local businesses know about the ban.

From 1 July 2019, when the regulations come into force, the Ministry for the Environment will:

  • provide an online form via the Ministry’s website which consumers, retailers and suppliers can use to notify the Ministry of non-compliance by retailers
  • respond to complaints received through the online process about the supply of banned plastic bags, and follow these up directly with the retailer involved.

Further information including downloadable posters can be found here.

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