July 14, 2024

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New Zealand has banned the use of thin plastic bags in supermarkets

New Zealand has banned the use of thin plastic bags in supermarkets

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – Starting Saturday, New Zealand will become the first country in the world to ban the thin plastic bags used by supermarket shoppers to pack fruit and vegetables.

The new veto will also affect plastic straws and cutlery, while the government is expanding a campaign against single-use plastics that began in 2019, which banned the bags shoppers took their purchases home with. Nowadays, most people use their own reusable bags.

Officials estimate that on average each New Zealander sends three-quarters of a tonne of rubbish to landfill each year.

“New Zealand produces a lot of trash, a lot of plastic waste,” Assistant Environment Minister Rachel Brooking said.

According to the minister, the 2019 ban prevented the use of more than 1 billion plastic bags in the country, and the new measure will reduce an additional 150 million bags per year.

Officials have explored concerns that if consumers choose paper bags for their fruits and vegetables, the initiative won’t do much for the environment.

“The answer continued to be yes, it’s still worth doing, but we really want to reduce the use of single-use packaging,” Brooking said. “So we want people to bring their own bags, and supermarkets sell reusable bags.”

Brooking pointed out that the focus is on educating the public, but authorities can fine businesses that decide to break the rules.

Critics have questioned the progressive government’s environmental record, pointing out that overall greenhouse gas emissions have not decreased since the government symbolically declared a climate emergency in 2020.