The days of plas­tic bags are cer­tainly num­bered

Weekend Herald - - Viewpoints -

It is no sur­prise that New Zealan­ders have been slow to sever their at­tach­ment to plas­tic. Habits die hard, and while plas­tic bags are get­ting the heave from many su­per­mar­ket check­outs, shop­pers seem un­will­ing to go with­out bin lin­ers and bags for pets. This is un­der­stand­able. Most peo­ple have a sup­ply of plas­tic bags un­der the sink or in a cup­board which be­comes a holder for kitchen waste. They keep rub­bish tidy, and are easy to tie and toss in the wheelie bin.

But as the su­per­mar­kets phase out sin­gle use bags, con­sumers will need to change their do­mes­tic prac­tice.

As we re­port to­day al­ter­na­tives are avail­able. It is sim­ple and fun to make a bin liner from pa­per, though that op­tion also comes with an en­vi­ron­men­tal price tag be­cause of the pro­cesses in­volved in pa­per man­u­fac­tur­ing. But it is a com­postable and cheap op­tion, and col­lects messy meal wastes eas­ily.

Do­ing away with a liner is a big­ger step, and may be­come the de­fault po­si­tion. It isn’t hard to give a bin a clean and freshen it up.

No doubt com­postable lin­ers will be­come more widely avail­able and even­tu­ally cheaper when the eco­nom­ics fall into line with de­mand. The dis­ap­pear­ance of plas­tic from part of our daily lives is un­der­way.

It is an in­cred­i­bly handy prod­uct and it is hard to imag­ine life with­out plas­tic bags. A true ac­count­ing of plas­tic would ac­knowl­edge that the bags end in land­fills where they sur­vive a long time.

The fact that a sus­tain­able fu­ture is only pos­si­ble with com­postable, re­cy­clable and eco-friendly al­ter­na­tives means the hum­ble, cheap and tough plas­tic bag is doomed.

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