UK govt sets example for NZ on plastic bag reduction

The UK Government has set an example for other countries, with a dramatic reduction in plastic-bag consumption.

Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042 - a model the New Zealand Government could be set to follow.

From being practical with a purpose to polluting the environment, plastic bags are an endangered species.

Charging 5p per bag has led to an 83 percent drop in the use of plastic bags in the UK, translating into nine billion fewer bags.

Here at home, there's still room for improvement. 

Since 2009, retail giant The Warehouse has been charging 10c per bag - and they've seen a 67 percent drop in plastic bag usage.

Paul Benatter of the Warehouse says, even when customers do take a plastic bag, they're still being given an environmental message.

"If you look at our plastic bags, it says 'reuse, reduce, recycle', so we do education to our customers on what they can do to better our environment."

In Britain, there's now a push to include smaller shops, like dairies, who are currently exempt from the 5p surcharge.

Eighty-three percent of Countdown shoppers are in favour of phasing out plastic carrier bags, with both major supermarkets working towards going bag free by 2019.

This action would aim to cut the circulation of single use plastic bags by 75 percent.

Countdown says going plastic free will take time  both for them to change their systems, and for people to change their behaviours.

"Now I've got to the point that, if I forget my bags, I just take everything in the trolley and unpack it in my car," one Countdown customer told Newshub.

The British Government hopes to work with supermarkets to encourage the introduction of plastic-free aisles.

Nothing like that is planned for New Zealand yet, but bins for soft plastic packaging have proved effective - amassing 215 tonnes of plastic.

That's about 56 million individual bags NOT polluting the planet.