In first month of plastic bag ban, 178 reports of businesses breaking the rules

As the plastic bag ban ends its first month, members of the public have made 178 reports of non-compliance through the Ministry for the Environment. 

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The single-use plastic bag ban is just the first step we need to take to keep our clean green image. Source: 1 NEWS

Under the New Zealand ban, businesses can no longer provide plastic shopping bags to customers. It was estimated 750 million single-use plastic bags were used in New Zealand each year.

Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage said some of the same businesses were reported by multiple people, "so the number of individual businesses reported as being in breach of the regulations is around 60". 

Stats NZ also released new data this week showing New Zealanders changed their behaviour, even before the ban was in place. 

Statistics New Zealand data. Source: 1 NEWS

The General Social Survey found that, between April 2018 and March 2019, 70 per cent of people lived in a house where at least one person usually took reusable bags shopping. It jumped to 92 per cent by October 2018 and by the beginning of 2019, it had risen to 96 per cent. 

Wellbeing and housing manager Dr Claire Bretherton said the survey "could highlight how the behaviour of Kiwis might change as preparations for the ban got underway". 

Ms Sage it had been "great to see the rapid change in habits with reusable bag use almost universal amongst households at the start of this year".

"The majority of New Zealanders care deeply about reducing waste and doing what we can to keep our rivers, beaches and oceans free from plastic so fish, turtles and other marine life can thrive," she said. 

In the first week of the ban, 56 reports of business non-compliance were made. 

The Ministry for the Environment contacted the businesses reported in order to monitor compliance with the regulations, Ms Sage said. 

"We've seen signs go up in shops and retailer education programmes with the message that single-use plastic bags are no longer welcome, and there are more environmentally friendly alternatives," she said. 

"It's still early days, and so the ministry will continue to monitor and assess the impacts in the coming months."