Moves to ban the bag

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By JESS ETHERIDGE

STRATE­GIES to cut down on plas­tic bags are be­ing praised by one en­vi­ron­men­tal com­mu­nity group.

But an Auck­land coun­cil­lor is con­cerned about get­ting the com­mer­cial sec­tor on board.

The city may soon limit the amount of sin­gle-use plas­tic bags shop­pers will pick up at the end of a su­per­mar­ket check­out.

The coun­cil has been in­ves­ti­gat­ing and a work­ing group is be­ing es­tab­lished to shape a draft agree­ment on min­imis­ing plas­tic bag and pack­ag­ing waste.

Colinda Rowe, chair­woman of en­vi­ron­men­tal group Grey Lynn 2030, says the move is sig­nif­i­cant and is about chang­ing peo­ple’s habits.

‘‘I of­ten see peo­ple buy­ing one or two food and drink items for lunch and hav­ing th­ese put in a plas­tic bag – it is so un­nec­es­sary,’’ Rowe says.

‘‘How­ever peo­ple are so used to it they don’t even think about it.’’

The res­i­dents of the city fringe sub­urb work to­gether un­der the Grey Lynn 2030 ban­ner to tackle is­sues re­lated to cli­mate change.

Mem­bers hold regular gar­den­ing, waste and en­ergy aware­ness events.

One of the group’s first ini­tia­tives was an e-waste col­lec­tion day in 2009.

The event saw 18 tonnes of e-waste di­verted from go­ing to a land­fill.

The city will be play­ing catch-up with the group, which has been cut­ting down on plas­tic bags in Grey Lynn for more than eight months.

Grey Lynn 2030 ral­lied res­i­dents and al­most 40 re­tail­ers op­er­at­ing within the sub­urb for Plas­tic Bag Free Day in July.

Both Count­down su­per­mar­kets in the sub­urb joined the cam­paign.

En­cour­ag­ing re­us­able bags will align Auck­land with San Fran­cisco, Chicago, Dublin and coun­tries such as Bangladesh who have all banned or taxed plas­tic bags.

‘‘Plas­tic bags are used for an av­er­age of 15 min­utes and then can take up to 1000 years to de­com­pose in a land­fill,’’ she says.

‘‘I hope we will be brave and be­come the first city in New Zealand to ban plas­tic bags al­to­gether.’’

The group was in­spired to or­gan­ise the day af­ter meet­ing Steph Bor­relle.

Bor­relle, a marine bi­ol­o­gist, is cam­paign­ing to ban the thin poly­thene bags sup­plied by su­per­mar­kets and other large re­tail­ers.

The Kings­land res­i­dent pre­sented a pe­ti­tion in sup­port of the cause to the coun­cil on the same day as Plas­tic Bag Free Day.

It had more than 4000 signatures.

A work­ing group of com­mu­nity rep­re­sen­ta­tives, re­tail­ers and con­sumer groups will help shape the plas­tic bag pol­icy, the coun­cil says. The use of plas­tic bags will also be cut within coun­cil.

Coun­cil­lor Denise Krum says she is fully sup­port­ive of the move but wor­ries there will not be buy-in from re­tail­ers.

‘‘Un­less Par­lia­ment looks at a form of manda­tory le­gal­i­sa­tion, a vol­un­tary-type scheme will be bound to fail as no re­tailer would want an­other to be un­fairly ad­van­taged.’’

Krum says she could see res­i­dents adapt­ing quickly to the change.

‘‘Trelise Cooper will have to cre­ate some new de­signs for her eco-bags.’’

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bour news.co.nz and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to watch a video about how plas­tic bags can im­pact on the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

Photo: JESS ETHERIDGE

For­ward thinkers: Grey Lynn 2030 chair­woman Colinda Rowe with mem­bers Mar­i­anne van der Haas and Louise Johnstone and their reuse­able ma­te­rial bags.

Bag ban: Coun­cil­lor Denise Krum sup­ports cut­ting down on plas­tic bags but is con­cerned about buy-in from the com­mer­cial sec­tor.

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