The Government needs to move towards a ban on plastic bags if it wants to stop them ending up in New Zealand's waterways, say the Greens.
Environment Minister Nick Smith said yesterday the Government would invest more than $1.2 million to allow soft plastics that cannot be recycled to be reused.
But Green Party waste spokeswoman Denise Roche said while this is a useful first step, it will not prevent plastic bag pollution.
Dr Smith is modelling his system on Australia's - but Ms Roche said there is also a small levy in most Australian states on using plastic bags.
"The new system does nothing to reduce the number of plastic bags that people use, so it seems unlikely to reduce the number of plastic bags that clog our drains and end up on our beaches and in our waterways, where they harm birds and fish," said Ms Roche.
She said countries like Ireland, Denmark, Finland and Bangladesh are taking action to stop bags ending up in the sea, but the New Zealand government is not doing enough.
"This is a half measure that won't fix the bigger problem, which is that New Zealanders use about one billion plastic bags every year."