Mayors call for plastic bag tax

  • 09/06/2017
Plastic bag pollution
New Zealanders use about 1.6 billion plastic bags a year. Photo credit: Getty

The country's big city Mayors are trying to increase pressure on the Government to impose a levy on single-use plastic bags.

Auckland's Phil Goff, Wellington's Justin Lester and Dunedin's Dave Cull say they have penned a letter to other Mayors asking them to join the call for the Government to institute the levy, or give councils the power to do it themselves.

"We have to stop dumping hundreds of millions of non-biodegradable plastic bags into landfill every year," said Auckland Mayor Phil Goff.

"We know that a small charge on single-use bags drastically changes consumer behaviours. If Government doesn't want to apply this charge itself, then it should empower councils to do so."

Last year, the Green Party lobbied for a levy, but then-Prime Minister John Key said it wasn't on the Government's agenda.

"Our general advice is that it's better for us to advance it through active encouragement rather than a tax," he said at the time.

The arguments for a plastic bag levy

  • New Zealanders use about 1.6 billion plastic bags a year.
  • On average a bag is used for 12 minutes before being thrown out.
  • Auckland sends 17,000 tonnes of soft plastics to landfill, Wellington about 9000 tonnes of plastic.
  • A 5p levy in the UK resulted in an 86 percent decrease in bags going to landfills.
  • A Washington DC 5-cent per-bag tax generated nearly $2 million for environmental and other social issues.