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Watch: The touching moment Jacinda Ardern helps schoolboy deliver speech on the scourge of plastic bags

The kids have always known it, single use plastic bags are a plague on the environment, and one primary school student politely let Jacinda Ardern know today in no uncertain terms.

Announcing the Government's policy to phase out single use plastic bags within the next year, the Prime Minister said the number one issue she receives letters about is plastic bags, and the majority of them are from kids.

To acknowledge that, Ms Ardern had several children up on the podium to read their letters about the destructive environmental impact plastic bags have.

"We all love the beach, it’s New Zealand, we are basically a beach, but we are destroying our beach, we are littering on our beach, it’s become a dump," the primary school boy said.

At one point Ms Ardern helped direct the boy with his speech notes.

"All sorts of fish are dying. So I’m writing this because we did a beach clean up at the beach and it was terrible."

"I couldn't believe the beach looked like that. At stores people use plastic bags, they are single use plastic which gets thrown away and turtles all eat them because they think it’s jellyfish.

"So I think you should ban plastic bags from stores, put tote bags.

"Did you know when fish eat single use plastic and we catch the fish and eat it, we’re eating plastic which can’t be good. We picked up an estimated 400 litres of rubbish which is crazy, and there’s more."

Plastic bag phase out

Alongside Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage, the Prime Minister announced the move to phase out the bags over the next year, with a six month phase-out period proposed.

The move comes after a petition with 65,000 signatures called for a ban on the single-use bags.

"We use hundreds of millions of single-use plastic bags, many of which end up polluting our precious coastal and marine environments and cause serious harm to all kinds of marine life, and all of this when there are viable alternatives for consumers and business," Ms Ardern said.

She said it was "important we take the time now to get this right" so Kiwis could adjust shopping habits.

Ms Sage was confident New Zealand would embrace the change, with the Government working alongside retailers to help with the transition.

"New Zealanders are proud of our country’s clean, green reputation and we want to help ensure we live up to it. Phasing out single-use plastic bags helps do that."

The public are able to give their views on the change until September 14, which includes options when the complete phase-out date should be and retailers that should be exempt. 

The youngster spoke at the Prime Minister's press conference on banning plastic bags. Source: 1 NEWS