Government rubbishes National's concern over ocean plastic

 Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage and National's environment spokesperson Scott Simpson.
Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage and National's environment spokesperson Scott Simpson. Photo credit: Getty

The Government has a salty response to National's call for an inquiry into ocean plastic pollution: You had nine years.

National MP Scott Simpson is requesting the extent of plastic pollution in the ocean be investigated by the Environment Select Committee.

He wants the sources of plastic pollution identified and solutions suggested.

"National had nine years to deal with plastic waste," Associate Environment Minister, the Green Party's Eugenie Sage said.

"Scott Simpson was Associate Minister with responsibility for waste. It would have been great if he'd seen it as more of a priority then."

'Nine long years' is becoming a phrase heard frequently in the Parliament of New Zealand, where the Opposition is in the tricky spot of criticising a newly formed Government after a long reign of power.

Ms Sage said it's up to the Select Committee to decide what will be most useful, but said "hitting waste at its source - on land - will benefit our oceans and wildlife."

The world's ocean is littered with close to eight million tonnes of plastic every year. There is an estimated two trillion individual pieces of plastic pollution in the North Pacific Ocean. Almost 92 percent are microplastics, including microbeads, according to New Zealand data firm Dumpark.

Mr Simpson says an inquiry into the issue would be useful "to the Government, NGOs, local government and citizens and will help ensure that New Zealand can be part of the global solution".

Newshub.