Single-use plastic bags will be banned from July 1 next year.

Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage today confirmed retailers would no longer be able to sell or give away single-use plastic shopping bags from July, after Cabinet agreed to the proposed regulations for a mandatory nationwide phase out of these bags.

The phase out will apply to all new plastic shopping bags with handles that are made of plastic up to 70 microns in thickness.

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

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It will also include bags fitting this description made of degradable plastic regardless of whether the plastic material is sourced from fossil-fuel, synthetic compounds or from biological sources such as plants.

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

"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".

Information about the mandatory phase out of single-use plastic shopping bags in New Zealand can be found on the Ministry for the Environment's website.