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Update on the campaign to ban single use plastic bags in Auckland

Steph Borrelle presenting to Auckland Council. Photo Credit: Cathy Casey

Steph Borrelle presenting to Auckland Council. Photo Credit: Cathy Casey

As California moves to ban single use plastic bags and the threat of plastic in our oceans grows greater the campaign in Auckland builds momentum. Grey Lynn 2030 Waste Away is supporting Steph Borelle’s petition to ban plastic bags.  Last week she presented to the public forum of the Environment, Climate Change and Natural Heritage Committee. In response the Committee has requested that officers evaluate options and recommend actions for the minimisation of single-use plastic bag use in Auckland and report back to the committee.

Colinda Rowe, Chair of Grey Lynn 2030 reports on Plastic Bag Free Day held in July

Grey Lynn went plastic bag free for a day on Thursday 31st July and the Grey Lynn 2030 Waste Away group was overwhelmed with the support that this initiative gained!  Most of the 40 or so retailers we approached were keen to take part and the two Countdown supermarkets – Williamson Ave and Richmond Road also joined this initiative, completing removing all plastic bags from their checkouts on the day and offering customers reusable cloth bags instead.

Waste Away team plastic bag free dayWandering around the Grey Lynn and West Lynn shopping precincts on the day it was great to see locals using cloth bags or simply carrying a couple of loose items.  Retailers reported that most of their customers were happy to go without plastic bags for a day and received many positive comments on the initiative.  We hope this will encourage our community to reduce their plastic bag usage on an ongoing basis.

The day coincided with the handing over of a petition calling for a ban of plastic bags in Auckland to Mayor Len Brown.  The petition was spearheaded by marine biologist Steph Borelle, who wants to see the introduction of a bylaw that will phase out single use plastic bags in the city over the coming years.  More than 3,300 people signed the petition.

The movement to ban plastic bags continues to gain traction across the world.  Bangladesh was one of the first, banning plastic bags in 2002 after they were found to be partially responsible for the flooding that submerged most of the country by clogging up drains.  Many other cities/countries around the world, including Ireland, Rwanda, India and several states in Australia are either banning plastic bags or imposing a fee.

Plastic bags are extremely harmful for the environment—they choke wildlife, they don’t break down in landfills, they add to our demand for oil and they are hard to recycle  Yet, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used around the world every year.  The ridiculous thing is that most of these bags are used for around 15-20 minutes and then take up to 1,000 years to break down in landfill.

Auckland retailers support plastic bag free movement. TVNZ coverage of plastic bag free day

Plastics may pose a greater threat than climate change – NZ Herald 27 August 2014

Interested in getting involved? email greylynn2030wasteaway@gmail.com

Steph Borrelle presenting to Auckland Council. Photo Credit: Cathy Casey