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Plastic Recycling July 17, 2017 02:30:57 PM

Open Letter seeks country wide imposition of plastic bag fees

Paul Ploumis
ScrapMonster Author
The letter has been signed by 65 mayors and chairs from across the country.
Open Letter seeks country wide imposition of plastic bag fees

SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): Local authorities have made strong demand towards imposition of countrywide plastic bag levy. Mayors from across New Zealand have signed an open letter to the central government to this effect.

Nine out of ten city and district mayors have signed the letter addressed to Associate Environment Minister Scott Simpson in strong support to imposition of levy on plastic carry bags, a demand that had earlier received overwhelming support from country’s residents. The letter has been signed by 65 mayors and chairs from across the country. Recently, a group of Wellington school students had lodged a petition with over 13,000 signatures, calling for imposition of bag levy. Retail NZ, the trade association representing over 4,000 New Zealand businesses had also sent a letter to the Associate Environment Minister, calling for levy.

The memorandum notes that majority of New Zealanders and retailers have extended support to the levy. It cites the success of imposition of plastic bag levy in other parts of the world including Denmark, Ireland and China, which has resulted in significant reduction in plastic bag consumption. It states that levy on plastic bags is the next logical step as bags create environmental pollution and burden for people. Most of the plastics end up in roads and water ways. Those plastic bags that reach landfills often blow out, thereby making it necessary to be recollected.

The open letter follows the findings of the recent research study conducted by the University of Tasmania which revealed that nearly 37% of the sea birds found dead on the beaches of New Zealand and Australia had plastic content in their stomach. The consumed plastics comprised of plastics in various forms ranging from small pieces to plastic spoons and balloons. Nearly 1700 dead sea birds were autopsied as part of the research. According to the study, younger sea birds were found to be increasingly prone to suffer death from plastic eating.

Earlier study conducted by Massey University's Coastal-Marine Research Group had revealed that nearly one-third of the turtles found dead on New Zealand beaches swallowed plastic. The study had highlighted single-use plastic shopping bags as the main culprit. The plastic bags that reach the ocean eventually breaks up into tiny fragments which are ingested by sea birds, marine turtles and whales.

Meanwhile, the most recent poll conducted among New Zealanders suggests that 65-78% of the poll participants were in support of the proposal to charge 15c fee on plastic grocery bags issued at super market checkout counters. The supporters of the levy propose to replace plastic bags with other alternatives such as biodegradable bags, reusable bags and recycled paper bags.

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