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Ban on plastic bags from 1 July 2019

Single-use plastic shopping bags have already been phased out from supermarkets and large retailers, and from 1 July 2019, they will be banned for all businesses. Here’s what you need to know to make the transition.

To help reduce waste and protect the environment, retailers will not be allowed to use single-use plastic shopping bags from 1 July 2019.

The ban covers any plastic shopping bags that are:

  • made of any type of plastic less than 70 microns in thickness
  • equipped with carry handles
  • new or unused
  • provided for carrying sold goods
  • made of bio-based materials such as starch
  • made of plastics that are degradable, biodegradable or oxo-degradable.

Bio-based plastic bags are included in the ban because even though they are made from plants, their manufacturing process prevents them from breaking down as quickly or easily as their original source.

Which single use plastic? (external link) — Ministry for the Environment

All retailers selling goods in New Zealand must make the transition by 1 July 2019. This includes businesses such as:

  • retail shops (eg dairies, petrol stations, clothing shops, hardware shops, garden centres)
  • restaurants (eg cafes, takeaway shops, food trucks)
  • online businesses
  • not-for-profit organisations
  • farmers markets.
91% of New Zealanders say they always or often bring their own reusable bags rather than use plastic.

91% of New Zealanders say they always or often bring their own reusable bags rather than use plastic.

While most plastic bags will be phased out, some bags will still be allowed. These include:

  • bags made from bio-based materials that are not plastic (eg cotton, jute, hemp, paper or flax)
  • long-life, multi-use shopping bags made from synthetic fabrics (eg nylon or polyester)
  • bags without handles including lightweight ‘barrier bags’ (eg bags used for holding meat or produce)
  • bin liners
  • bags for pet waste
  • bags that form part of a product’s packaging (eg sealed pouches with handles)

Start to transition your business away from plastic by encouraging your customers to bring their own shopping bags. You might also offer or sell your own reusable bags for customer use.

You may also need to cancel any existing inventory orders for plastic shopping bags covered by the phase out.

Plastic bag phase out (external link) — Ministry for the Environment

Plastic bag phase out: Toolkit for businesses (external link) — Ministry for the Environment

Do you have more questions about the single-use plastic bag phase out?

Do you have more questions about the single-use plastic bag phase out?

Contact the Ministry for the Environment by phone at 0800 499 700 or by email at info@mfe.govt.nz.

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