The Auckland Indian restaurant that cut handles off its plastic bags to get around the new ban has today announced it is now only using paper bags.

The ban came into effect on Monday, but plastic bags without handles and those that have already been used are exempt.

Paradise Indian Takeaway, a popular biryani restaurant on Sandringham Rd, had continued to give customers their takeaways in plastic carrier bags with the handles cut off.

Owner Rafi Mohammed told the Herald on Wednesday it was a temporary measure to clear remaining stock, expected to take about three weeks, before transitioning to environmentally-friendly options.

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Paradise Indian restaurant and takeaway in Sandringham is now using paper bags after a plastic bag ban was introduced this week. Photo / Supplied
Paradise Indian restaurant and takeaway in Sandringham is now using paper bags after a plastic bag ban was introduced this week. Photo / Supplied

But today Mohammed told the Herald they had already made the changes and were now only using paper bags.

"We fully support the ban, it is good for the environment and our future.

"We were always going to change over, we were just clearing some stock while we waited for our new bags."

Mohammed said their remaining stock would likely be used as bin liners.

But the initiative to cut off the handles has drawn both support and outrage from the public, and even inspired the owner of a takeaway shop in West Auckland, who says he would follow suit to keep within plastic ban law.

Lincoln Tan visits Paradise Indian restaurant on Sandringham Rd that found a way around the plastic bag ban. Photo / Michael Craig
Lincoln Tan visits Paradise Indian restaurant on Sandringham Rd that found a way around the plastic bag ban. Photo / Michael Craig

The man, who did not want to be identified, told the Herald over the phone that his business had taken a hit since the ban came into effect on Monday.

"We sell a lot of curries and dishes with sauces, and customers complain about them tearing [through the containers] from the steam or spills," he said.

"On Tuesday, our business is down maybe 30 per cent because people now buy less when they don't have a bag to carry them in."

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He said the Herald report on Paradise Indian Takeaway on Sandringham had made him "rethink", and that he would now cut off the handles from his plastic bags instead of dumping them.

Paradise Indian restaurant on Sandringham Rd. Photo / Michael Craig
Paradise Indian restaurant on Sandringham Rd. Photo / Michael Craig

The move to get around the plastic bag ban has had mixed reactions on social media.

"They had a year to plan for this. No excuse to not have the new bags ready and the old stock gone by July 1st," one person commented.

"Handles, no handles it will still mess up the environment," said another.

One person however, called it "very smart".

"Expected that people will always find a way when the laws are not providing a cost-effective alternative."

"Number-8 wire thinking - love it, something we've lost along with our ability to think freely," one person said in support.

A Ministry for the Environment spokesman said cutting handles off banned single-use plastic bags "goes against the intent of the ban".

"We will follow up any reports of this happening," he said.

As of Wednesday the ministry had 13 reports of non-compliance since the ban came into effect.

The paper bags now being used at Paradise Indian restaurant and takeaway in Sandringham. Photo / Supplied
The paper bags now being used at Paradise Indian restaurant and takeaway in Sandringham. Photo / Supplied

People are being urged to report to the ministry if they observed the distribution of what they believe to be banned plastic bags.

"Where necessary we will be contacting businesses reported to be supplying alleged banned plastic bags," the spokesman said.

"Reports are taken seriously, and we will work with businesses who we confirm are not complying with the law. We want to understand why the bags are being supplied and we want to help businesses do what's best for the environment."

He said the ban was in place to make New Zealanders think about what's best for the environment and to spark a change in habits.

"We hope businesses take a responsible approach in the alternatives they are providing customers."

Q&A: The plastic bag ban

What is banned?

• Any type of plastic bag less than 70 microns in thickness, that's new or unused, has carry handles, is provided for carrying sold goods, and is made of bio-based materials like starch. It also covers bags made of plastics that are degradable, biodegradable or oxo-degradable.

Are there any exemptions?

• People will still be able to buy lightweight barrier bags, like the ones that you get in the deli or butchery, along with bin liners, pet waste bags and nappy bags. Also exempt are bags used in packaging, like bread bags and pouches for cooked chicken, for hygiene reasons.

How is it being enforced?

• Breaches could be enforced with fines, but the Government has pointed out that it wanted to focus more on working with businesses to encourage compliance. If the Ministry for the Environment received a complaint about a breach, officers would contact the business and work with them to find out why they hadn't stopped giving out banned bags. The ministry also planned to conduct random audits.

Why the ban?

• Estimates suggest that, over recent times, the average Kiwi had been using 154 single-use plastic shopping bags each year. That equated to around 750 million bags per year. Because of their lightweight nature plastic bags were easily transported by wind and water, contributing to ocean pollution. The Government has signalled the ban is the first step to tackling the "throwaway culture", and moving to a circular economy where little gets thrown out or wasted.