News ID: 251487
Published: 0720 GMT April 16, 2019

Concerns leftover plastic bags could be sent to the landfill after bag ban

Concerns leftover plastic bags could be sent to the landfill after bag ban
huffpost.com

The countdown is on bags in News Zealand for businesses to wave goodbye to plastic, but some say the country's leftover bags could all be sent to landfill — there's no other use for them.

The Ministry for the Environment has released guidelines for businesses to find bag alternatives by July 1. If they don't, they could be fined $100,000, stuff.co.nz wrote.

Nick Morrison, who was behind the Bags Not campaign, said he was ‘nervous but hopeful’ about the ban, and was concerned about leftover bags. 

"The reality is there's not really any solution except sending them to landfill."

Single-use plastic shopping bag regulations come into force from July 1, but plenty of shops are still providing them to customers.

Single-use plastic shopping bag regulations come into force from July 1, but plenty of shops are still providing them to customers.

The country's soft plastic recycling scheme was shut down last year when it was inundated with plastic and there is no planned date to reboot the scheme. 

The Ministry for the Environment's guidelines say some businesses may have a large amount of bags left, and strongly discourages retailers from sending leftover bags to landfill.

Recycling and plastic manufacturers may be able to assist with unused stock, the guidelines say. 

However, Morrison said he'd be surprised if any manufacturer would take leftover plastic bags.

No company had stepped up to the opportunity.

Instead of binning them, businesses could hold on to them in the hope that better recycling infrastructure came around.

All around New Zealand, bakeries, dairies and other small shops were still handing out bags with abandon, he said.

Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme chairman Malcolm Everts said no new companies had stepped forward to recycle soft plastics, including bags.

However, Everts wasn't expecting demand for bag recycling after the ban.

"The big companies are already winding down, there won't be many plastic bags left.

"I don't think the volumes are going to be that high, so I'm not overly worried about that."

Their scheme would still be relevant because plastic bags were only a small portion of their collection, he said.

The Warehouse Group chief sustainability officer David Benattar said leftover bags would be melted down in to new products.

None of the company's bags would be sent to landfill. 

Retail NZ interim chief executive Greg Harford said some businesses would try to use up all their bags by July.

"Retailers are ordering their bags sometimes months or years in advance."

Harford said there could be issues with getting the message across to smaller businesses.

"Some of the businesses like takeaway bars don't realize that the plastic ban also applies to them."

   
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