News, Events and Culture

Call For Plastic Supermarket Bag Levy Backed

Monday July 20 2015

The issue was debated at the Local Government New Zealand annual conference in Rotorua today.

Eighty ninety per cent of the seventy six Councils participating at the conference voted in favour of PNCC's remit, which asks central government to impose the levy on supermarket bags at point of sale. The remit was seconded by the Auckland City Council.

Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith says "it is really positive to receive so much support for the move and it is now up to central government to do something positive about it".

Mr Smith says the remit does not prescribe how much the levy should be - central government has Treasury to tell it how much it needs to be to have an effect…and what that money should be spent on."

Mr Smith says New Zealand is currently out of step on the issue internationally.

"170 different states and 30 different countries have either banned or placed a levy on single-use plastic bags", he says.

"Experience overseas suggests a levy will change behaviour. It prompts customers to think about whether they really need to use a plastic bag", he says.

Plastic supermarket bags are damaging to the environment, they clog up waterways and are difficult to recycle.

 "It takes nearly two hundred thousand supermarket bags to make up a tonne of recycling…it sells for around $50 a tonne, minus the costs of processing and freight costs", Mr Smith says.

Another Palmerston North City Council remit, calling for central government to create a law banning smoking outside cafes, restaurants and bars was also strongly supported at the Local Government New Zealand conference.