Next Monday, the plastic bag is outlawed.

From July 1, retailers will no longer be able to sell or give away single-use plastic shopping bags.

The national phase-out of bags has been known about for a while, and already supermarkets and other shops no longer offer single use bags at check-out.

Retailers in Te Puke are also doing their bit, and 19 businesses in the town have signed up to Zero, an Envirohub campaign.


Businesses and individuals signing up pledge they will aim to eliminate, or at least reduce, the single use plastic in their lives or business. In return they are supported with information, strategies and alternatives.

Te Puke Florist owner Murray Howell supports the initiative and says the amount of plastic being used in the shop is decreasing.

''We've started use a lot more hessian string on product tying off, and we are starting to use biodegradable paper - brown paper that breaks down a lot easier,'' he says.

''We are also starting to use natural leaves again, like lotus leaves you can wrap flower with and we try hard to recycle our waste - we separate the greenery from the plastics and cardboard is going into the recycling.''

Cellophane is almost synonymous with arrangements, and Murray says it is difficult at the moment to find an alternative.

''We haven't really got anything that's going to retain water as good as cellophane yet, apart from either ceramic or glass [vases]. That's what we are starting to suggest to our clients, that the flowers are presented in a glass vase so there is no plastic involved. Some people will pay for that, but then that's going to make their item a little bit more expensive.''

There are no plastic flowers on display in the shop and less plastic generally than there used to be.

''Suppliers that supply us with floristry products have now ceased using a lot of plastic like plastic binding, plastic based wrappings. They've become conscious and they've made us become more conscious.''


Giftrapt owner Marge Martelletti has one of Epic Te Puke's boomerang bag stands in her store - bags made from recycled fabric that can be used as an alternative to plastic bags.

She says she wants her shop to be plastic free and many of her customers bring their own bags. She does not use plastic bags in the shop and has been using paper bags ''for a long time''.

''I am doing my very best to change over.''

She says she is 100 per cent behind the ban, but says there is also a responsibility on the users of bags.

''If everybody was responsible for disposing or reusing their bags correctly, there wouldn't be a problem - it's about being responsible, I think,'' she says.

Zero was launched by Tauranga-based Envirohub during Plastic Free July last year.

''We will also soon be launching a new page on our website which will include a map of the Bay of Plenty and will have all the businesses now signed up so customers can search for their closest Zero business,'' says Zero project manager Liesel Carnie.

'Plastic shopping bags are a hazard for nature, particularly marine wildlife," Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage said. "They can also introduce harmful microplastics into the food chain.

"These regulations are an important first step to tackle New Zealand's wider waste problem. Importantly, the mandatory phase out of single-use plastic shopping bags signals that we need to do things very differently – manufacturers, retailers and consumers all have a responsibility to reduce waste and prevent plastic pollution."

The regulations apply to all new plastic shopping bags with handles made of plastic up to 70 microns thick.

This includes lightweight supermarket bags, heavier boutique-style shopping bags and the "emergency" bags offered by some supermarkets as an alternative to a free single-use bag.