Vast majority of NZ's mayors demand levy on single use plastic bags

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A levy on single use plastic bags has received overwhelming support from New Zealand's mayors, with 90 per cent of them signing a letter asking the Government to enforce a cost on their use.

Most of us use a plastic bag for just twelve minutes, and then never again - but they take decades to decompose.
Source: 1 NEWS

Signed by 65 mayors and chairs from around the country, the letter sent to the Associate Minister for Environment Scott Simpson says the majority of New Zealanders support a plastic bag levy and retailers are on board too.

"It's clear to us that we need to do more to minimise the impact of plastic bags on our environment," Local Government New Zealand President Lawrence Yule said.

"Plastic bags cause harm in their creation, when they go to landfill and when they are littered."

The 65 council leaders who have put their name to the letter represent 90 per cent of the local government bodies in New Zealand.

However, in response to questions from 1 NEWS, Mr Simpson said the Government "is not contemplating a plastic bag tax" and "typically most cost effective efficient solutions are industry lead".

Mr Simpson also said recent moves by Australia's two largest supermarket chains to stop using plastic bags within the next 12 months demonstrates the industry can find environmental solutions without "heavy-handed regulation".

Meetings with stakeholders in the sector, mayors and officials have also been set up by Mr Simpson, including a working group to explore options to reduce plastic bag consumption.

The letter sent today to Mr Simpson states the experience of local governments is that plastic bags cause a considerable impact on local environments and communities bear the environmental and financial burden.

Also cited in the letter was the Government's decision in January this year to ban products containing plastic microbeads because they could not be recycled and of clear evidence they caused harm to waterways, fish and shellfish.

“This was a great step and was welcomed by many across the board,” Mr Yule said

"A levy on single use plastic bags is the logical next step.

"They are just as ubiquitous as the microbeads, which are largely being phased out by those who manufacture them anyway, and we need to take a real step forward to break the plastic bag habit so many of us have."

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