Moves to ban the bag
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.
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.