Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has expressed a strong desire to see "assets sustained and protected for generations to come".

In line with this, many of his campaign policies in the lead up to the election were environmental, including protecting Auckland's marine environment and the Waitemata Harbour, planting a million additional trees in three years, reducing the city's waste, addressing global warming, and reducing carbon emissions from transport.

The new council may have only been in place for a couple of months, but many of these policies are already underway.

Reducing wasteGoff wants to increase the city's recycling efforts, implementing initiatives that will work towards an aspirational goal of zero waste to landfill by 2040, set out in the Auckland Council's Waste Management and Minimisation Plan.

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Of the initiatives, one expected to pass fairly quickly is a charge on plastic bags.

"The truth of the matter is that we all know we shouldn't use them. But we are all lazy," says Goff.

"Unless we're pushed, we won't do it. We could probably cut 500 or 600 million plastic bags a year out of the waste stream in Auckland when we do it."

Governments around the world have been taking action to ban plastic bags or charge customers for them, beginning with Bangladesh in 2002.

Even some supermarkets in Myanmar are now promoting "No Plastic Bag Day Fridays", and instead pushing reusable and recycled bags.

California is one of the most recent regions of the world (and the first US state) to ban all retailers from handing out single-use plastic shopping bags at the checkout.

California Proposition 67 -- or the "Plastic Bag Ban Veto Referendum" -- was included on the ballot in the United States election last month, and passed with 52 per cent of votes.

But rather than an outright ban, a more likely model for Auckland is a plastic bag charge similar to that implemented in Britain in 2015.

British retailers with more than 250 full-time employees are required to charge 5p per plastic bag, which has resulted in a reduction of around 80 per cent.

There is an exemption on certain products (such as uncooked meat, poultry or fish), and small business in England are also exempt as the administrative burden is considered too high for them to manage.

"It's simple," says Goff. "Focus on your supermarkets -- New World, Countdown, Pak'nSave, which already does it, as does The Warehouse.

The truth of the matter is that we all know we shouldn't use [plastic bags]. But we are all lazy. Unless we're pushed, we won't do it. We could probably cut 500 or 600 million plastic bags a year out of the waste stream in Auckland when we do it.

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"We would allow exemptions for meat, fish and vegetables, and encourage people to use reusable bags."

Goff has two options for implementing charges on plastic bags.

"I can get an agreement from the supermarket chains to do it voluntarily," he says.

"I have ready talked to both Foodstuffs and Progressive Enterprises."

Alternatively, legislation could be passed through a local bill in Parliament.

Outgoing Prime Minister John Key was ambivalent about introducing any national policy to force a behavioural change.

But assuming New Zealand is serious about living up to its "100 per cent Pure New Zealand" tourism slogan, rolling out a policy throughout not only Auckland but the rest of the country must surely be just a matter of time.

Goff points to a 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll conducted last month, which found that 78 per cent of those polled thought it was a good idea to charge for plastic bags, and use the money raised to go towards reducing plastic's impact on the environment.

"It's a no brainer. I'll be pushing hard on it," says Goff.

A Million Trees programmeOn the campaign trail, Goff announced an urban forestation programme for Auckland, aiming to plant a million, predominantly native, trees and shrubs across the region during his first term with council -- in addition to those already being planted.

I don't believe that council needs 800 cars, just like I didn't believe the Mayor needed two chauffeurs and a big Holden -- I have neither of those things now.

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His goal is to "green our city", offset carbon emissions, protect Auckland's water quality by planting along rivers and coastlines, and improve our living environment.

The transformation of Te Auaunga Awa (Oakley Creek) is already underway. It is Auckland's longest stream, and is undergoing a transformation to replace the concrete channel and underground pipes with a wider, natural flowing stream with cycle paths, walking trails -- and 50,000 new trees.

Goff wants a formal plan for the Million Trees programme to be in place in autumn, in time for the start of next year's planting season.

The programme has a budget of $1 million a year, which will fund practical support and help provide an overall strategy around which tree species to plant and where.

Local boards, schools, service and social sector groups, private entities, farmers, the Department of Conservation, New Zealand Transport Agency and developers are among the organisations which already plant trees and shrubs around the region. Council will work alongside all of these groups, and offset costs through partnerships.

"We have also got the potential to use nurseries within prisons and those used for training purposes," Goff says. "Things are underway."

Addressing global warmingReducing carbon emissions from transport was a key priority on the campaign trail for Goff's mayoral bid. Extending beyond an ambitious tree planting exercise, Goff plans to increase public transport use with non-polluting electric trains and light rail, and by building more walkways and cycleways.

We're more than a third of the country's population, we have to demonstrate that we can pull our weight as well.

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"We're more than a third of the country's population, we have to demonstrate that we can pull our weight as well," he says.

Interestingly, in the lead up to the byelection to appoint his Mount Roskill successor (which Labour's Michael Wood won convincingly), Goff wouldn't commit to paying half the $1.36 billion cost for Labour's pledged light rail service from Mt Roskill to the CBD -- instead disclosing he would negotiate hard to protect ratepayers.

"It will be carrying far more passengers than many other roads around New Zealand that are funded 100 per cent," he said.

"We'd want to negotiate between the Labour Party position of 50 per cent funding and what would currently be paid for a road of national significance by central government, which is 100 per cent."

Goff has said he would like to reduce the council's 800 cars, and convert those that remain over time to electric vehicles.

Changing his own car has been something he's quickly acted on.

"I don't believe that council needs 800 cars, just like I didn't believe the Mayor needed two chauffeurs and a big Holden -- I have neither of those things now."

Goff is now driving a Toyota Prius, and makes use of an electric bike.

"It's fantastic because I can peddle up Albert St and look like I'm really fit -- and it's quicker."