THE GREEN PLANET BLOG - Our World and Environment...

All about conservation, ecology, the environment, climate change, global warming, earth- watch, and new technologies etc.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Levies on plastic shopping bags would convince consumers of the environmental bigger picture...


Plastic shopping bags are the topic of the week here, as supermarkets appear to becoming "green" and stating they will charge customers for these bags. With a change of government here in NZ last November from a left of centre Labour-led government to a rightwing conservative National government, we cannot expect any leadership on environmental issues. The NATS will not legislate a tax on plastic shopping bags.

The PM John Key ruled out a government backed levy, even though his minister had asked officials to investigate a five cent charge per bag. This government is not reading from a single page. As an Opposition they layed into the previous administration accusing them of being a 'nanny state' when it legislated for a change to eco-friendly lightbulbs. They have subsequently scrapped that law.

The Green Party said this government lacked internal communication, and also said that for a nano second they appeared to support environmental matters. But the shutter has closed.

Key admitted the use of a billion bags a year was excessive for a small country like NZ with only 4.2 million people.

A similar scheme in Ireland, known as PlasTax, has cut plastic bag use and raised millions for environmental projects.

A five cent per bag levy here could have raised $39 million per year based on the 780 million bags used by supermarkets. But it would go to supermarkets not, not to environmental projects in New Zealand.

Plastic bags make up 0.2 per cent of New Zealand's waste but stay in landfills for decads, get into our waterways and smother our marine life.

Even a small levy on bags would convince consumers 'that we should think about the bigger picture'.

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