Government set to introduce single-use plastic bag ban

The Government is set to introduce a ban on single-use plastic bags in New Zealand.

Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage said the ban could be announced in "the next few months", speaking to RadioLIVE DRIVE's Ryan Bridge and Lisa Owen. 

"What we've seen already with Z Energy, with Countdown, Foodstuffs, is those companies committing to phase out single-use plastic bags in their businesses by the end of the year.

"That's responsible for about 75 percent of the bags that are used across New Zealand each year but for that other 25 percent it needs action from Government," Ms Sage said.

"We recognise that there's strong public support but it would need to be done through regulations. It's [about] making sure that they are drafted and that we signal clearly what we're doing."

Ms Sage said she is awaiting advice from the Ministry for the Environment on what a good timeframe for the ban would be, and has asked the ministry to prioritise this.

"We need to move to a much more circular-based economy where we take stuff carefully from nature, we use those materials, we ensure that the products are designed so that they can be unmade and the materials in them used, re-used, and re-used, and we get rid of this notion of waste and disposal," she said.

Earlier on Tuesday, which is also World Environment Day, 12 local and international businesses announced a commitment to making their packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

The move was welcomed by Ms Sage who said: "These companies have drawn a line in the sand, pledging to do their bit to stem the tide of plastic waste and plastic pollution."

Greenpeace labelled the move "rubbish", with campaigner Emily Hunter saying "the crucial word missing in that pledge is 'reduction'".

"We need to be wary of pledges like this that sound good, but in reality allow the rise of plastic packaging production in our lives and our oceans, all while companies pose as green leaders."

Catch the full interview with Eugenie Sage on RadioLIVE Drive from 3-6pm.