Zero Waste NZ calls for levy on plastic bags

Published: Mon 24 Feb 2003 01:09 PM
Media Release - February 24, 2003
Zero Waste NZ calls for levy on plastic bags
Environmental group Zero Waste New Zealand is calling on the government to urgently impose a levy on plastic bags to highlight the growing rubbish mountains and prevent damaging the country’s 100 percent pure green image.
Putting a 10c levy on every plastic bag will create the incentive for shoppers to use less bags or alternatives, Zero Waste NZ chairman Mike Morris said today.
New Zealanders could be throwing away as many as one billion plastic
bags every year. filling up expensive landfill space and wasting natural resources, he said.
Plastics make up between 15 and 20 percent of waste in landfills and they take hundreds of years to decompose. Though plastic bags only make up part of this, they are one of the easiest plastics to deal with.
``We are trashing our planet with one trip plastics all in the name of convenience,’’ Mr Morris said today.
``It’s waste on a colossal scale. The plastic bag problem can no longer be ignored.’’
Zero Waste is a national charitable trust which has helped communities, cities, businesses and institutions develop zero waste strategies. The plastic bag issue is becoming a major environmental issue around the world.
Mr Morris said there was a real need to launch a major national debate on the issue before the plastic industry moves to entrench its position.
``This is too important an issue to leave to lobby groups who want impede change. The rest of the world sees plastic bags producing a major environmental crisis.
``We saw plastic bags swirling about the stadium during the world sevens rugby tournament in Wellington. Beaches around the Pacific are littered with plastic bags and are no longer pristine.
``Our marine life is under threat from plastic bags. Turtles think they are jellyfish and they choke on them. They block drains and cause massive flooding in places like Bangladesh and are causing massive littering problems in places like South Africa.’’
Zero Waste wants the Government to take a leadership role before it is too late. Ten cents a bag was a small price to pay to protect New Zealand’s clean green produce and the country’s 100 percent pure branding.
Most of New Zealand’s income comes from industries dependent on a pristine environment – tourism, food production etc.
Putting a levy on plastic bags would be one of the most practical and simple moves towards sustainability. Biodegradable plastic bags were not a solution to the problem – because they don’t break down in landfills and produce methane gas.
Ireland recently put a 15 euro-cent levy on every plastic bag which has reduced their use by 90 percent in three months.
The levy funds waste reduction programmes. England and Australia are looking at following the Irish government’s lead. Taiwan and Bangladesh have gone one step further and are banning plastic bags altogether.
Media advisory: Former further information, interviews, photos or camera shots contact Zero Waste NZ chairman Mike Morris on 025 955 892 or Kip Brook at Word of mouth Media NZ on 03 3745426 or 021 0338455

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