The Government's ban on single-use plastic bags will force New Zealanders to find new ways to deal with rubbish, pack their lunch - and clean up after four-legged friends.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday announced it would phase-out bags within a year, saying it was necessary to preserve the country's green reputation.

After the announcement, the Herald talked to about 30 people on Queen St; with the majority of consumers backing the move.

Three tertiary students, lugging two bulging plastic bags in each hand, complained about the cost of buying reusable bags - but then were quick to admit it was about being organised with what they had.


Another woman pointed out that some people back home in Mangawhai "hated" that plastic bags were being phased out, saying she didn't believe there were other options to line bins or pick up dog poo.

But founder of social enterprise, Thrive Whanganui, Nicola Patrick says she used to use shopping bags over and over to scoop up her dog's poo, but has for quite some time now been using bread bags. And when at home, she uses a used milk bottle to pick it up.

Patrick thinks there's a niche in the market right now for someone to create something like a little cardboard scoop.

Heads are also scratching at SPCA about what to use for that purpose too. A spokesperson says they're currently reviewing other environmentally-friendly options to plastic bags. As are supermarket retailers Countdown and Foodstuffs.

As for rubbish bin liners, Patrick argues people don't need rubbish bin liners at all. Her household is a well-oiled machine when it comes to putting food scraps in the compost and meat leftovers to the dog bowl, resulting in very little rubbish going in the bin.

Patrick gives her bin a good wash with either hot soapy water or a mixture of bicarbonate soda and water. Patrick says it's easy enough and people ought to give it a go.

For those less keen on no liner, she adds she's seen some small retailers also stock double paper lined bags which can be effective too.

Countdown, which set the ball rolling with its promise to ban single-use plastic bags by the end of the year, leading to Foodstuffs, the Warehouse Group and many other companies following suit, will continue to sell bin liners in stores.


Its general manager of corporate affairs, Kiri Hannifin, says they're encouraging people to share ideas about alternatives, such as using newspaper.

Foodstuffs has echoed that same message, adding that having no bin liner at all and giving rubbish bins a "good wash" every so often were also great alternatives.

The deadline for the phase-out nationwide is July 2019.

Dr Trisia Farrelly, who's on the New Zealand Product Stewardship Council, told the Herald that while she's happy with the move, a levy in conjunction with it would be more effective.

She points to the successes of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in introducing a levy on the plastic bags and having a 96 per cent reduction rate after just the first year.

Farrelly says if brought in, the levy, which the council's been pushing for some time, should be mandatory for all retailers.

And she adds, it's important that there's transparency around where the money from the levy would be going to - not the retailer itself but to an independent environmental fund.


The Government intends to rid the country of single-use plastic bags by July 2019.


Pressure from supermarkets and overseas retailers, China's ban from January 1 on receiving New Zealand and other nation's plastic and the discovery of 'the world's deepest plastic bag' at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench, over 10,000m deep.

What are the alternatives?

• No bin liner at all. Wash unit with hot soapy water or a mix of bicarbonate soda and water.
• Newspaper, paper, double paper liners.
• Bread bags to pick up dog poo.
• Freezing leftovers that could make the bin messy and on rubbish day, popping it in the bin to be collected.