Single-use plastic bags are to be phased out of Kiwi shops over the next year, as the New Zealand government plans to crack down on the environmental issue.
New Zealand is set to ban single-use plastic shopping bags over the coming year, its government has announced.
The country has one of the highest per-capita rates of urban waste production in the developed world, with about 750 million plastic shopping bags – or about 154 per person – used each year.
Retailers will be given six months to make the change, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage announced on Friday.
Ms Ardern said fines of up to $NZ100,000 ($AUS 89,621) were being proposed for supermarkets failing to do the right thing.
"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," Ms Ardern told reporters.
Both major supermarket chains and several Kiwi retailers have already announced they’ll eliminate single-use plastic bags by the end of 2018.
A Greenpeace petition calling for a ban on bags was launched last year, with the green organisation calling Friday’s announcement a “win for people power and the first big step towards addressing marine plastic pollution”.
New Zealand’s plastic bag ban follows similar moves by Australian retailers. However, retail giant Coles’ multiple backflips on the issue generated backlash from customers.
Just a day after Coles announced it would offer customers free plastic bags indefinitely, the supermarket announced a new cut off date for the complimentary plastic bags last week.