A Western Bay woman is so passionate about reducing plastic she has started a campaign to make her hometown Katikati become plastic-free.

Helena Duggan began rallying support in April and had more than 650 signatures.

The question of what happened to plastic had played on Duggan's mind for many years, and over the past five, she had refined ways to reduce her usage.

Duggan never bought fresh produce wrapped in plastic and often shopped online.

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She bought products such as toilet paper in bulk online from companies that did not use plastic packaging.

"I'd love to be able to shop locally if I could. My priority, though, is what heritage will we leave behind?" she said.

Steps to reduce single-use plastics were being taken in Tauranga as more local businesses make changes.

"It's a reflection of public opinion. People can see for themselves what needs to be done to reduce plastics. I applaud these businesses and hope many more get on board," Duggan said.

National company Mico Plumbing and Bathrooms had recently gone plastic bag free in its branches in Tauranga and Mount Maunganui.

Mico was the first in the building products trade industry to make the move, and it was expected 168,000 fewer plastic bags would be used every year across the 65 stores nationwide.

Mico Plumbing and Bathrooms is now plastic bag free in all 65 branches nationwide. Photo/ Supplied
Mico Plumbing and Bathrooms is now plastic bag free in all 65 branches nationwide. Photo/ Supplied

Regional manager Nigel Harvey said the need to take action became clear while he was taking a dip in the Indian Ocean.

"I was in crystal clear water and thought I was being attacked by jellyfish, but realised I was actually tangled in plastic bags," he said.

"Single-use plastic bags, while convenient, come at great cost to our environment, particularly our beautiful oceans."

When Harvey returned, Mico formed a regional working group to bring in reusable bags and go 100 per cent plastic bag-free in branches between New Plymouth and Nelson.

The company thought customers would be supportive, so reusable bags were designed, as well as boxes being made available.

Another major company, the Warehouse Group, was also set to ditch all single-use plastic checkout bags and replace them with fully compostable bags.

The move would be rolled out across the all 254 Warehouse, Warehouse Stationery, Noel Leeming and Torpedo7 stores in the country by the end of the year.

The compostable bags would cost 15c each and proceeds would go to local charities. The bags would be distributed free of charge at Noel Leeming.

Supermarket brands Foodstuffs and Countdown planned to phase out single-use plastic bags by the end of 2018.

Envirohub's general manager Laura Wragg said she fully supported local businesses making the move to rid the city of single-use plastic bags.

"It's an indication of how we don't actually need these plastic bags and people aren't afraid to get rid of them now," she said.

Wragg said many light-weight plastics such as bags and straws end up going straight into the ocean.

"They might break down a little bit, but we know marine life will eat them or get caught up in them.

"These plastics are used for such a short amount of time and can be around forever."


What companies are plastic free?

- The first 14 Mico Plumbing and Bathrooms branches phased out plastic bags in October 2017 and in April Mico went plastic bag-free in all 65 branches.
- The Warehouse Group will ditch all single-use plastic checkout bags and replace them with fully compostable bags by the end of the year.
- Foodstuffs and Countdown planned to phase out single-use plastic bags by the end of the year.
- Local restaurants The Rising Tide and Papamoa Tavern no longer serve plastic straws.