Coun­cils vote to wrap up plas­tic bags

A call from the Palmer­ston North City Coun­cil for cen­tral gov­ern­ment to im­pose a levy on su­per­mar­ket shop­ping bags has won wide­spread sup­port from lo­cal author­i­ties.

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS -

The is­sue was de­bated at the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment New Zealand an­nual con­fer­ence in Ro­torua on Sun­day.

Eighty-ninety per cent of the 76 par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­cils voted in favour of PNCC’s re­mit, which asks cen­tral gov­ern­ment to im­pose the levy on su­per­mar­ket bags at point of sale.

The re­mit was sec­onded by the Auck­land Coun­cil.

‘‘It is re­ally pos­i­tive to re­ceive so much sup­port for the move and it is now up to cen­tral gov­ern­ment to do some­thing pos­i­tive about it,’’ city mayor Grant Smith says.

The re­mit does not pre­scribe how much the levy should be.

‘‘Cen­tral gov­ern­ment has Trea­sury to tell it how much it needs to be to have an ef­fect . . . and what that money should be spent on.’’

Grant says New Zealand is out of step on the is­sue in­ter­na­tion­ally.

‘‘One hun­dred and 70 dif­fer­ent states and 30 dif­fer­ent coun­tries have ei­ther banned or placed a levy on sin­gle-use plas­tic bags.

‘‘Ex­pe­ri­ence over­seas sug­gests a levy will change be­hav­iour. It prompts cus­tomers to think about whether they re­ally need to use a plas­tic bag’’, he says.

‘‘It takes nearly 200,000 su­per­mar­ket bags to make up a tonne of re­cy­cling . . . it sells for around $50 a tonne, mi­nus the costs of

‘‘Ex­pe­ri­ence over­seas sug­gests a levy will change be­hav­iour’’ Palmer­ston North Mayor Grant Smith

pro­cess­ing and freight costs.’’

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

Last week The Pack­ag­ing Fo­rum of­fered a vol­un­tary in­dus­try-led ini­tia­tive to in­tro­duce re­cy­cling bins so that shop­pers can take back used soft plas­tic bags to su­per­mar­kets and re­tail premises.

The pro­ject will ini­tially trial at stores in Auck­land be­fore rolling out to other re­gions over three years. It aims to pro­vide soft plas­tic re­cy­cling ac­cess for more than 70 per cent of New Zealan­ders.

‘‘Soft plas­tic bags are not cur­rently col­lected for re­cy­cling by coun­cils be­cause they can con­tam­i­nate the re­cy­cling process,’’ ac­cord­ing to Lyn Mayes, the scheme’s pro­ject man­ager.

The new pro­ject pro­poses to take all soft plas­tic bags — ba­si­cally any­thing made of plas­tic that can be scrunched into a ball.

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