It is no surprise that New Zealanders have been slow to sever their attachment to plastic.

Habits die hard, and while plastic bags are getting the heave from many supermarket checkouts, shoppers seem unwilling to go without bin liners and bags for pets. This is understandable. Most people have a existing supply of plastic bags under the sink or in a cupboard which becomes a holder for kitchen waste. They keep rubbish tidy, and are easy to tie and toss in the wheelie bin.

But as the supermarkets fall into line and phase out single use bags, consumers will need to change their domestic practice.

As we report today alternatives are available. It is simple and fun to make a bin liner from paper, though that option also comes with an environmental price tag because of the processes involved in paper manufacturing. But it is a compostable and cheap option, and collects those messy meal wastes easily.


Doing away with a liner entirely is a bigger step, and in the end one may become the default position. It isn't hard to give a bin a decent clean and freshen it up for the next few days.

No doubt degradable and compostable liners will become more widely available and eventually cheaper when the economics fall into line with demand. That really is the heart of the issue. The disappearance of plastic from part of our daily lives is underway.

It is an incredibly handy product and it is hard to imagine life without plastic bags. A true accounting though of plastic would acknowledge that the bags end in landfills where they survive a long time.

The fact that a sustainable future is only possible with compostable, recyclable and eco-friendly alternatives means that the humble, cheap and tough plastic bag is doomed.